Students invited to share campus home with families, friends

The university played host to hundreds of families this past weekend, offering them a small sampling of the great things happening here.

The three-day event, held Friday, Oct. 3, to Sunday, Oct. 5, takes place annually.

Michele Gunkelman, director of Residential Life, is member of the committee that plans the weekend.

“(Family Weekend) gives students an opportunity to host their families, to show them their home away from home,” Gunkelman said. “It truly allows them take ownership of this new place and (to) make memories with their families here.”

Merry Jo Brandimore, dean of students and associate provost for student affairs, is a member of the committee.

“We set students up with expectations of experiences, and Family Weekend has been a staple of that college experience,” Brandimore said. “That tradition just makes sense to us.”

The planning of Family Weekend has been in the works for months due to collaborative efforts from personnel across the university.

“We know from our work and research that at this point in the semester, about six weeks in, students really start to show signs of homesickness, so we’ve planned this weekend at this time to try to combat that,” Gunkelman said. “At this point, students have also had time to get their feet wet in the university. It’s their stomping grounds now.”

“It serves as … a rite of passage for new student,” Brandimore said. “This is a new chapter in their lives and we want to get their families involved with it. It also gives the university the chance to feature new and upcoming events or programs around campus.”

The weekend boasted a litany of events of which students and their families could take advantage.

“(The weekend) engages so many parts of the university, including student organizations, the (Marshall Fredericks Sculpture) museum and athletics,” Gunkelman said. “The university has the chance to highlight what (it has) to offer.”

On Friday, Oct. 3, Coop the Cardinal’s birthday party was hosted on in the Marketplace at Doan, comedian Tracey Ashley entertained in the Thompson Student Activities Room and a reception was held to commemorate the artists featured in the Living Center Southwest’s lobby art display.

Saturday, Oct. 4, began with the aroma of maple syrup: The National Residence Hall Honorary provided families with a free pancake breakfast.

“Super Sidekick” made its debut on campus at 11:30 a.m. and was performed twice more that day by students in Richard Roberts’ Theatre Tour course.

Super Sidekick is a children’s musical from rising playwright Gregory Crafts and composer Michael Gordon Shapiro. The Los Angeles Theatre Review noted it was “…perfect for small children, with audience participation, a perfect hour run-time and catchy musical numbers.”

At 2 p.m., the university’s newest landmark was dedicated. The “I Love SVSU” sculpture, located on the north lawn of the Ryder Center, was designed by Thomas Canale, professor of art.

Medical laboratory science junior Ashley Pike attended the dedication ceremony with her family.

Her father, Dave, graduated from SVSU in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Her brother Brandon graduated in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and her brother Andrew will graduate in May 2016 with a master’s degree in health administration.

“Saginaw Valley has really been a constant in my family,” Pike said. “This sculpture is a beautiful aesthetic representation of that.”

A young artist’s clinic was then offered by the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, followed by an event dubbed “Stick Around Campus” in the Student Center. This provided activities like caricature and face painting, video games, spirited crafts and refreshments to students and their families.

A tailgate reception and a football game versus Northern Michigan University capped off the second day of the weekend.

Families and students were invited to relax on Sunday, Oct. 5, and enjoy what the Great Lakes Bay Region has to offer.

“We really want the students to feel acclimated to (the university), so Family Weekend allows us to provide students with the platform to do so,” Brandimore said. “This establishes the relationship that students and their families share with the university.”

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