Fall Family Weekend has been a staple event at Gonzaga University for years, but like so many other events this year, COVID-19 put it at risk of cancellation.
The weekend has been a key event for the GU community and provides families an opportunity to come to campus and participate in a slew of events all weekend.
Fall Family Engagement, as it has been renamed, will be a series of virtual events and programming throughout all of October and November starting on Oct. 9. It brings families together and shows them what it means to be a Zag through two months of virtual activities.
“We decided to try to coordinate any virtual events that would be happening throughout the fall and do an entire series of events throughout October and November instead of trying to consolidate everything into one weekend,” said Jim Fawcett, the program coordinator for Parent and Family Relations.
The events will differ in subjects ranging from an LGBTQ+ inclusive prayer service led by Mission and Ministry, to a 60x60 Dance Festival organized by the Gonzaga Theatre and Dance Department. Fall Family Engagement will provide something for everyone’s taste with the plethora of activities and programs scheduled on their website.
This format is much different than that of previous years, but the goal of engaging parents with the GU community remains the same.
“In the past, Fall Family Weekend has not just been about families coming to campus, but a campuswide celebration of what being a Zag is,” Fawcett said.
COVID-19 provided many challenges for this event, none more pressing than allowing parents and families the ability to connect with the GU community.
The Parent and Family Relations team took these obstacles in stride and organized an event that enables families to get in touch with campus life.
“I don’t think canceling was ever an option,” said Serena Hua, event coordinator for Parent and Family Relations. “We felt that Family Weekend was very important to our Zag community because it gives our families and community a chance to connect with the student body and staff and faculty.”
There is not another event at GU quite like Fall Family Weekend, Fawcett said.
GU’s other noteworthy events such as New Student Orientation and graduation are geared toward the freshman and senior classes respectively. Fall Family Weekend is the only occasion involves students and families from all classes and is geared toward the entire university.
Fall Family Weekend at GU is a unique way for families to see the GU community and campus in action, but the event also serves as a way for students to reconnect with their families as the first six weeks away from home start to build up.
Hua said a question the Parent and Family Relations team grappled with while planning the event was how to relieve some of the homesickness feel, especially first-year students.
Fall Family Weekend has always been incredibly impactful for first-year students as they attempt to transition to the college lifestyle without seeing their families every day.
For this year’s Fall Family Engagement, Parent and Family Relations is also partnering with Negative Split to put on a virtual race for the Zag community. This virtual marathon will take place from Oct. 10 to Oct. 31 and all proceeds from the event will go towards Zagathon to benefit Miracle Kids at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane.
This is the first virtual run GU has put on and is just one example of the unique events students and families will find over the next two months.
The event’s website (www.gonzagaffe.com) will be constantly updated as more events are planned and has all Zoom links and registration information provided on the site.
“Our main goal every year is to give families a snapshot of what it is to be a Zag,” Fawcett said.