Parents Get a Sense of Colgate Life

Scores of mothers, fathers, grandparents, half-uncles and second cousins twice removed flocked to Colgate over the three days of Family Weekend. It was a weekend filled with educational, entertaining and cultural activities that introduced students’ parents and other family members to life at Colgate.

On Friday, students and their families could attend classes, stop by the Career Services networking event, hit up the hockey game and top off the night at Brehmer Theater with the production of “The Miser.” On Saturday, they could see President Chopp’s State of the College Address, the midday football game and Charred Goosebeak’s performance and finish up with a delicious dinner at the African American Student Alliance’s (AASA) annual banquet. Students enjoyed brunch with their families on Sunday, and were later soothed by the classical melodies of the Colgate Chamber Players at their “October Odyssey.”

These events were intended to introduce families to the life of the Colgate student. The a cappella concert on Friday night – featuring the Colgate 13, the Swinging Gates and the Resolutions – was just one example of such an opportunity.

“It’s a little bit intimidating,” sophomore Resolutions secretary Tina Toutoungi said. “But with parents and friends, it’s comforting in that the people who are watching us are people who…are excited not only to hear us sing but to see what we get to do every other afternoon. They get to see that realized on stage.”

Resolutions co-president Molly Cyphers, emphasized that the concert will be one of their most significant events. “It’s something that all three groups work really hard toward. It’s one of the biggest-if not the biggest-thing we do this semester,” she said. “We are just excited to be able to share with our parents, friends and our fellow classmates here at Colgate what we love to do.”

The Family Weekend events even had an impact off campus. Proceeds from Saturday night’s AASA Banquet went to fund Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

“All the money raised from the banquet…we are going to give it to local churches to help families. We are also going to adopt a school, or at least a classroom, in New Orleans to help with rebuilding, and buying books and supplies,” senior AASA President Rodney Mason said.

The banquet featured jazz entertainment, student performances, a slide show and plenty of New Orleans-style cuisine, catered from Syracuse. Mason hopes that the banquet gave parents a chance to see how their children are acclimating to college life.

“We try to have a lot of students do stuff, so their parents can say, ‘Oh, there’s a sense of community here. My child is active and being involved in dancing, in gospel choir or in poetry.’ We want the families to leave with the sense that their child is secure and that they are taken care of,” he said.

Family Weekend encompassed a host of educational events, as well – for both students and parents. The Center for Career Services hosted a networking event for students to meet professionals in a casual setting, and Dean of First-Year Students Beverly Low gave a presentation on the lives of Colgate first-years for parents who are new to the college experience.

Parent volunteers gave insight on their occupations to career-minded students at the networking event on Friday.

“There are a number of parents who have volunteered to come for the Family Weekend…to talk about careers, graduate school, and internship possibilities,” Career Counselor Suzanne Cronkite said. “It’s not a place to go for a student to get a job, but just for students to receive some mentoring and some conversation with parents.”

While students got a glimpse of life in the workforce, family members were educated on college life with Dean Low’s presentation, “Thirteen Realities of the First Colgate Year.” Her presentation aimed to inform parents about the life of the first-year student from dorm life to academics, and included a question and answer session.

“The majority of parents who come back for Family Weekend tend to be the parents of first-year students. Sometimes it might be their first child at Colgate, or their first child at college, so we like to target a couple of our programs to the particular needs of first-year parents,” she said. “It’s intended to be informative, but also a little bit lighthearted too.” So whether you got a taste of Creole cuisine at the AASA banquet, were charmed by magnificent melodies at the a cappella concert or learned a thing or two at a lecture, there was plenty for everyone to do on Family Weekend.

“I think the nice thing about Family Weekend at Colgate is that you have a variety – a wide variety,” said Low, who is also a member of the Family Weekend Planning Committee. “If you are coming here as a visitor, or parent, or family member there should be something you find that you like to do.”