Families face weekend of life at the Institute
By Richard Chae
Special activities today kick off MIT's annual Family Weekend, a two-day event during which over 1500 family members will join undergraduate students for a weekend of exploration and discovery of Institute life. The event, now in its third year, is organized and sponsored by the Alumni/Alumnae Association.
Over the course of the weekend, parents and other family members will have the opportunity to take part in a number of activities, including open houses, tours and presentations by many of the various Institute departments and administrative offices. Parents will have the chance to visit living groups and to meet one another at specially organized dinners.
Evening entertainment will be provided by various performing arts groups including MIT's Brass Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra, Concert Band and the Festival Jazz Ensemble. Also
scheduled to perform are the Chorallaries, Cross Products, Logarhythms and Muses.
A special program entitled "Shaping the Future" is scheduled for Saturday morning in Kresge Auditorium. The focus of the program will be a panel discussion, led by President Charles M. Vest, in an exchange of views of the 21st century. The discussion takes its theme from David Halberstam's book The Next Century, which was used for Freshman Book Night Discussions. Panel members will include Yonald Chery G, Professor of Economics Stanley Fischer, Head of the Department of Biology Phillip A. Sharp and Professor of Management Eleanor D. Westney.
Though only in its third year, Family Weekend has already generated a very positive response from parents, other family members, students, faculty and the administration. Over 2000 students and family members
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attended last year's events, and a similar number is expected to participate in this year's program. As of Tuesday, approximately 1500 family members had registered to attend, but many more people are expected to register today, according to Annette Williams, coordinator of parents programs and alumni/alumnae activities.
Weekend gives family
preview of MIT life
Williams cited two major purposes for organizing a Family Weekend. First, parents and family members can have the opportunity to really discover the Institute and "really get a feel for what goes on at MIT."
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering August F. Witt felt that "Family Weekend is an excellent idea. I believe it's in the best interests of the students and the parents for [the parents] to see the students in a university environment. They should be able to attend lectures and have dialogues with the faculty." Witt also stressed that his chemistry classes are "always open to the parents."
Williams noted that "Parents seem to only get a chance to come [to MIT] when they drop you off as a freshman and when they come to graduation." She said she hopes that Family Weekend would change this situation so that more parents would want to visit MIT and discover everything that the Institute has to offer. Williams said, "The parents can get just as much out of their student's education as the student if we involve them and share what we've got."
Anthony D. Patire '95 said, "My parents are spending so much money, I figure that they should be able to see what's going on . . . where their money's going."
Communications among MIT
parents strongly encouraged
A second purpose of Family Weekend is to improve communication among MIT parents. Maryglenn Vincens, program director of Student, Parent and Young Alumni Programs, felt that "Students have their peers, and parents need their peers too."
Both Williams and Vincens felt that in past years the Family Weekend has been fairly successful in improving communication among parents. According to Williams, "The parents are discovering each other and forming relationships. . . . They're getting together and really talking."
Williams hopes the interaction among parents during Family Weekend will have far-reaching consequences. For example, she suggested that parents could organize regional communication and support networks.
Williams was hopeful that parents who attend Family Weekend would later attend open houses for prospective students and pass along information. Just as Project Contact lets current students answer prospective students' questions, Williams said, parents could establish similar lines of contact to answer questions and help ease some prospective of their apprehensions.
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