Bucking trends, College saves '08 visits for spring

by Hannah Plotkin | 11/8/04 6:00am

Over-eager parents of freshmen have been converging on their children's college campuses nationwide for the last few weeks, but it would take a very keen eye to spot throngs of parents roaming around Dartmouth.

Once again, Dartmouth is bucking the trend by holding its First Year Family Weekend in the spring.

According to Director of Student Activities Linda Kennedy, freshman-spring Family Weekend became part of Dartmouth tradition as a result of one man with lots of experience dealing with freshmen.

Recently deceased former Dean of First Year Students Peter Goldsmith first wanted to move the weekend to the spring so that the freshman class could be fully involved in planning the weekend's events, she said.

At first-year family weekends at most colleges, students don't participate in organizational activities, Kennedy said.

At Dartmouth, though, the freshman-class family weekend chairs organize the specific weekend's events. The overall weekend is coordinated by the Office of Student Activities.

The family weekend chairs are members of the 2008 Class Council.

Family Weekend co-chair Ashley Mas '08 said holding the event later during the course of the academic year gives a chance for better preparation.

"I think it allows ample time for the First Year Class Council to become acclimated with the school and prepare a weekend for the families that will best give them a sense of what it is like to experience the spirit and energy that the students bring to the Dartmouth campus," said Mas.

Goldsmith also based his decision on a desire to teach students to be independent.

He believed that when parents came to visit early in the fall, freshmen were not well settled in their new environment and that parents felt compelled to help their kids work out whatever adjustment issues they were grappling with early in the year, Kennedy told The Dartmouth.

"Dartmouth thinks that good things come from students working out their own solutions," she said.

Evan Michals '07 couldn't agree more with Goldsmith's decision after his experience last year.

"I liked having parents' weekend in the spring, because by that point we had already established our lives here at Dartmouth, and could tell our parents all about our experiences while showing them around," Michals said.

Those who find Dartmouth's system problematic are few and far between -- at least according to the Student Activities Office. Kennedy admitted that some parents do call and complain, but she believed this is usually because they envy fellow parents who are going to visit their kids at other schools.

However, the department responds to them with encouragement to visit whenever they find suitable, Kennedy said -- and this could explain the occasional parents and other family members sometimes found showering or sleeping over in freshman residence halls during the fall.

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