News, University News

Family Weekend gives ‘a taste of life on campus’

Over 1,700 families flock to U. for academic forums, student performances

Contributing Writer
Sunday, October 21, 2018

This past weekend, families traveled to College Hill for the University’s annual Family Weekend to visit their students, tour the campus and attend a multitude of events addressing different aspects of campus life.

“It’s really the feel-good event of the year,” said Mikele St-Germain, assistant director of University Event and Conference Services. With over 1,700 families in attendance, the coordinating committee tried to keep the weekend stress-free and fun while allowing families to experience “a taste of life on campus,” St-Germain added.

Throughout the weekend, faculty members hosted academic forums covering a variety of issues such as human-computer interactions, the problems surrounding treatment for neurodegeneration and the effects of bias on medical treatment and judicial decisions. The weekend also included a screening of the documentary film “RBG,” which was followed by a conversation with its director, Betsy West ’73 P’17, and President Christina Paxson P’19. At the same time, a number of faculty-run events covered academics and campus life.

Family Weekend also featured a large number of student performances, including a concert from the Brown University Orchestra and a production of “Antony and Cleopatra” staged by Shakespeare on the Green.

In addition, several student identity and resource centers, such as the Brown Center for Students of Color and the Office of International Programs, held open houses. The University also hosted several sporting events, including football and field hockey games against Cornell.

During the weekend, families attended a welcome speech from Paxson, who spoke about the “tremendous growth in maturity, intellectual sophistication and sense of purpose” that students develop during their time on campus.

“We need people who can work across divides,” Paxson said, adding that the University’s open curriculum promotes academic study and understanding across different fields of knowledge. She also spoke about the University’s efforts to remove financial barriers through its launch of the Brown Promise campaign, which eliminates  loans in University financial aid with grants for undergraduate students, as The Herald previously reported.

Maria Hinojosa P’19, an Emmy award-winning journalist and anchor at National Public Radio, delivered the weekend’s keynote address. Hinojosa said she appreciates the University for welcoming new ideas and challenging old standards.  “Ultimately, there is nothing to fear about change except our resistance to change,” she said.

Hinojosa also spoke about the dehumanization and mistreatment of undocumented immigrants in the United States as well as the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. To advance progress and accomplish personal goals, Hinojosa said that people cannot be afraid to speak up. “We have to eat that fear,” she said.

While planning the weekend, St-Germain said maintaining communication with parents was deeply important so that families “know what to expect when they get here and how to find information” on the weekend’s activities. The University intends to upload videos of larger events, like Paxson’s welcome speech and Hinojosa’s keynote address, to YouTube for parents who could not come to campus, she added.

After spending weeks apart from their children, parents said they enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time together. Mark Niles P’22 said he liked that his son was “challenged academically without being too overly stressed,” and added that it was great to see him happy at Brown.

When Jim Dayton P’21 and Maria Dayton P’21 were asked for their favorite part of Family Weekend, they both smiled and said in unison, “seeing our daughter.”

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