ASU family weekend held online with no in-person events

Events include virtual game shows, meet and greets, a virtual 5K and fun run

Traditionally, family weekend welcomes visitors to ASU's four campuses to participate in activities like outdoor obstacle courses, college-hosted tailgates and other family-friendly events. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, family weekend events will be held entirely online from Nov. 6 and 7.

Though there are no in-person activities this year, there will be over 45 live programs hosted online for families to participate in over the weekend. 

“We look forward to the day that we can do that (in-person events) again, but we're adding this whole new component that will likely continue because it's making sure that no matter where a family (is) they're able to really participate and to engage with us here at ASU," said Kellyn Johnson, director of family programs at ASU.

Family weekend begins Friday with the International Family Coffee Connection at 6:30 a.m. to connect ASU families from around the world and offer advice to international families.

“What's really exciting about this is actually letting us connect with families wherever they may be in the globe,” Johnson said. 

Johnson said many colleges will host online meet and greets and town halls with deans on Friday as a replacement for their traditional tailgates held before football games. 

At these meetings, students and their families may Zoom with faculty and staff at their colleges to learn more about their schools and later ask questions regarding their student's college experience. 

Other events include virtual tours, live challenges and crafting tutorials.

Allen Glazer, an ASU parent and active volunteer with ASU Family in Los Angeles, has worked with family engagement since last school year as a means to “give back to ASU.”

Glazer is hosting several Family Coffee Connection events over the weekend where ASU Family will share information about tutoring, scholarships and other ASU Family programs. He said his main goal is to show families they made a good decision in choosing ASU.

“You go to a really large school and sometimes you get lost," Glazer said. "I think that what is so great about these coffee (events) is the ability to turn a 70,000 school into something that feels like you’re going to a community college or private 3,000 person college.”

Due to COVID-19, the Programming and Activities Board is not allowed to host its traditional Memorial Union After Dark event, which is usually held on specific Friday nights throughout the school year. During Family Weekend, the PAB organizes a family-friendly version of the event. Instead, they will host a virtual family game night Saturday at 6 p.m. where families can compete in game show style trivia for Amazon gift cards.

Dennis Ramos Jr., student events and programming coordinator, assisted PAB members in organizing the game show. 

"Some of our students and families are opting to stay in their home states," Ramos said. "We just want to make sure we can find an activity that was going to be open and accessible to everybody."

Angela Leventhal, a freshman studying accountancy, said she is not going to participate in the virtual family weekend activities this year, despite living away from her family. 

"It's nice to know that they're trying to have (families) involved because at least it's better than nothing," Leventhal said.

She said she would be more likely participate in the weekend activities if they were being held in person.

"My parents never really got to tour with me because of COVID so they haven't really seen the campus," Leventhal said. "They don't know a lot of what's going on, and so without (activities) being in person, they still don't get that chance."

Despite having to adjust to a virtual format, Ramos said he thinks the weekend's events still showcase the ASU community and give families "some peace of mind."

"I'm extremely confident in ASU to still create memorable and valuable experiences that students and their families can get and will still remember going forward," Ramos said.


Reach the reporter at kncasti1@asu.edu and follow @kristencasti11o on Twitter. 

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