Families Connect With Campus Virtually Through Family Week Events

Jocelyn Buggy ‘22

News Editor 

Family Weekend has been a beloved tradition within the Holy Cross community for years.  Before Covid-19, the College would spend weeks preparing to welcome families from across the country for a weekend of food, fun, and community.  Like almost all other aspects of college life, however, the pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for this long-held event.  Covid-19 transmission rates, social distancing protocols, and travel restrictions have forced Holy Cross to rethink how Family Weekend could happen this year.  Despite these obstacles, the College remained committed to putting on a virtual version of Family Weekend.  In lieu of the traditional weekend format, parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members were invited to take part in a virtual Family Week which included a variety of events to help acquaint and connect them to the Holy Cross community.

Unlike previous Family Weekends, Family Week Spring 2021 spanned an entire week, from Monday, March 8 to Sunday, March 14.  The celebration kicked off with an address from Father Boroughs and members of his executive team in which he addressed the College community, discussed current initiatives, and answered questions submitted by family members.  Other events included a Zoom panel discussion conducted by the Office of Multicultural Education on how families, caretakers, and advocates can support LGBTQIA+ students, a lunchtime Mindfulness Meditation with Director of Student Wellness Education Liz Drexler-Hines, and a Family Trivia Competition coordinated by the Holy Cross Parents Council.  Family Week also offered an educational opportunity for families to learn about the current historical moment through a Zoom alumni discussion on investing in racial equity.  Holy Cross alumni Damon P. Hart ‘96 and Dominic Blue ‘98 joined McFarland Center Director Thomas Landry to discuss the importance of corporate responsibility in dismantling structural racism.  Hart and Blue also shared about their roles in forming the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund in 2020, which provides resources to non-profits to dismantle systemic racism in areas of education, health care, policing, and more.  

Photo Courtesy of Megan Sullivan.

Megan Sullivan, parent of David Sullivan ‘22, told The Spire about her Family Week Spring 2021 experience: “Family Weekend on campus has always been one of my favorite things. Getting a glimpse of my son’s college life is such a treat. The effort put forth to create that wonderful Holy Cross community feeling, online, was so evident in the great, thoughtful events hosted last week. We never miss Father Boroughs’ speech when on campus, and the Zoom version was wonderful too.  As a parent, it is so comforting to hear him convey such genuine care for everyone in his Holy Cross flock. We also loved participating in the Trivia Night, complete with the blueberry Crusader Cocktail.  The event was run so efficiently with over 80 teams participating, and we had a fantastic time.”

Lauren Vitelli ‘22 expressed her excitement about the Family Week offerings: “I was really happy that the College was able to put together activities for a virtual Family Week. I have really enjoyed Family Weekend the last couple of years, and I know my parents have too. I was able to go to the Trivia Night on Friday, and it was so much fun. I was on the phone with my family the whole time laughing and discussing the answers. My parents loved being able to participate in a Holy Cross event for the first time in over a year. I was home last semester, and this semester there aren’t guests on campus so they haven’t been able to be involved. I think they liked the opportunity to see that Holy Cross is trying to keep students and families engaged. For me, it was a reminder of all the things I have to look forward to as we get back to normal on campus.”

 The College is expecting to welcome families back to the Hill for an in-person Family Weekend in the fall.  A date has been set for the weekend of October 22-24, 2021, and more details will be shared in the coming months. Lauren shared her hopes for what this next Family Weekend will look like: “I am hopeful that we will be able to have in-person events for Family Weekend next year. I do hope that they keep having virtual options for some of the events. Some people’s parents live too far away to come for Family Weekend, and I know that can be hard for people. Having virtual options for activities would allow those students to have a way to participate in the family weekend festivities even if their family can’t be there in person.”

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