Students carved pumpkins, heard media greats and danced the “electric slide” with parents and family members Saturday and Sunday during Family Weekend, two days GW officials said provided a welcome relief from recent national security tensions.
Students’ parents and siblings flooded campus for the opportunity to mingle with GW faculty and staff and touch base with their children.
Families attended open houses, toured campus and heard CNN “Crossfire” host Bill Press speak, among other events, throughout the weekend. The Mount Vernon campus also hosted Octoberfest Saturday, with pumpkin carving and a barbecue, and a brunch Sunday.
Students and their families packed the Smith Center for “A Night with Ray Charles” Saturday and later filled Kogan Plaza for live jazz, dancing and refreshments.
Director of Parent Services Rodney Johnson said it was one of the most attended Family Weekends yet, attributing the increase to this year’s record freshman class and parents returning for a third or fourth year. He said new events such as Midnight Madness that were added in the past five years have encouraged parents of upperclassmen to return.
“Family Weekend at GW is not like at any other university,” said Parent Association member Fred Daniels, whose son is a junior. “Any opportunity to be with my kid in Washington, D.C. is a double positive experience.”
More than 400 parents attended the second-annual Silent Auction in the Marvin Center Ballroom Saturday to enjoy refreshments and bid on items including weekend getaways, gift certificates, books and gourmet meals.
The most expensive items were a one-night weekend stay at the Executive Suite of the Swissotel Watergate and a gift basket with a package from the GW Inn with a free one-night stay. Both items sold for more than $300. Other items included lunches with GW administrators, travel bags, gift certificates and a basketball signed by GW alumnus Red Auerbach.
Non-member dinners at the University Club were also popular with parents and families.
University Club Membership Director Jim Massey said the club had a waiting list throughout the weekend. Massey said more than 275 people dined on gourmet a la carte dinners during the two nights.
“One hundred people asked for applications for membership after the dinners,” Massey said. “I’d say it was a great success.”
Marie Lucien, a parent from Massachusetts and mother of a GW junior, said she enjoyed group discussions with various deans and faculty.
“It allows you to ask many questions that you wouldn’t be able to ask in a much larger group,” Lucien said.
Johnson said the weekend offered a great way for parents to see their children and the nation’s capital in a time when tensions from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks still linger.
“People needed to come and see the city, see the University, see how their children are doing,” he said. “They needed a sense of security and of the issues around campus.”
Johnson said the weekend showed the school year might be slowly returning to a normal.
“I understand some of the anxiety people have,” he said. “Hopefully this weekend has helped to ease some of that anxiety.”