JMU prides itself on having students from all over the country, even all over the world. Although diversity of backgrounds is a great opportunity for students to meet new people, it’s hard for students to visit their families if they live far away. Families have the opportunity to visit during Family Weekend, but there’s only one scheduled Family Weekend. If parents and families can’t make arrangements during that one weekend, then they miss out on all the events, including the football game.
Family Weekend usually occurs within the first couple months of school, typically falling on the last home game before Homecoming in October. After driving however many hours and moving their child into their dorm room during the 1787 August Orientation, parents might not want to make another trip so soon. It doesn’t make much sense, or it might not even be a possibility for those who live far away. Parents can plan a separate visit, but they would miss out on the events and atmosphere of Family Weekend. JMU should have more family weekends so families can pick a time that works best for them to come visit.
The main attraction of Family Weekend is the home football game. Parents are encouraged to tailgate with their students and go support the Dukes at Bridgeforth Stadium. Although this is an incredible experience, not all families go to the football game. JMU can plan another family weekend during an away game or after football season and host other events. These other events could take place in the stadium to accommodate a mass amount of people or events could be smaller and arranged all over campus. An additional family weekend gives more opportunities for events that all families can enjoy.
Families might visit because they miss their student and want to experience a few days at JMU. They can walk on the Quad, go downtown and attend events on campus. However, parents and family members may miss the events simply because of a scheduling conflict. It’s not fair to expect all families from all over the country to make this one weekend work. It almost seems impossible for families to come unless they’ve planned it months prior. This type of planning doesn’t always work when life gets in the way.
When families have to cancel their visit, they don’t have another option. Not only do they have to deal with cancellation charges if they booked a hotel, but they miss the chance to spend time with their students. Family Weekend is a great way to experience JMU and missing it because of whatever reason is simply disappointing. Parents having the option to choose which Family Weekend works for them can help families plan better, but also give them another chance to visit if something comes up.
Family weekend is a memorable experience that families should take part in at least once during their students’ time at JMU. However, between the on-campus events and off-campus restaurants, places are so busy it’s difficult to do exactly what one wants. If JMU had more than one family weekend, everything wouldn’t be so crowded. It’d be better for families, students and everybody in Harrisonburg if family weekends were spread out to decrease crowds.
Megan Klepper is a senior, writing, rhetoric and technical communication major. Contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org.