Family Fest adds 'green' showcase

By Katie Havranek

Family Fest is fast approaching and it looks green. While Family Fest will look the same in many ways, this year’s programming will highlight Macalester’s commitment to promoting environmental awareness and sustainability.”We want families to understand that we take the commitment seriously,” said Dean James Hoppe.

Events like the Macalester Sustainability Tour and the Sustainable Twin Cities Tour highlight the theme of sustainability. Families will also receive a mug made out of recycled plastic and a bag that when presented during the Twin Cities tour will earn discounted products from local businesses.

“The idea for the theme emerged out of committee conversations,” explained Cindy Harstaad, Director of Campus Center & Conferences and Family Fest Co-Chair.

The committee was made up of primarily Student Affairs staff but also worked with members of the High Winds office, Admissions, Special Events Development, and Civic Engagement.

The green theme is not the only new event at Family Fest this year. There will be a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting that will create a space to hear stories from parents of GLBT children and receive information about Macalester’s resources for GLBT students.

Spaces are already filled up for the new family-style dinner. Families have paid to have buses take them to restaurants in the Twin Cities to sit down for a meal with other Macalester families.

As always, Family Fest will take place amid many theatrical, music and sporting events on campus that students and family are encouraged to attend. The International Round Table event is also an intentional overlap happening this weekend.

“Initially it was an accident, but the parents seem to enjoy seeing the programming as much as the students,” Hoppe said.

The speakers at the Roundtable will include James C. Scott, Ravi Kanbur, and Michael J. Watts.

Four hundred people are already registered to attend the weekend’s events but more families are expected to register on-site. In the past, the number of people who pre-registered for the weekend was equal to the number on site. Harstaad believes this estimate to be a little high, “We’re expecting about five to six hundred people to be on campus this weekend.”

Visitors tend to be the parents of first-year students. It’s seen as a time to reconnect. “Orientation is sort of a whirlwind so Family Fest is a time with less programming to allow families to enjoy the campus more,” Harstaad said.

The committee, co-chaired by Harstaad and Lisa Landreman, Associate Dean of Students, strove to maintain a good balance between scheduled events and free time for students and families to reconnect.

“I’m really excited for my parents to come because it will give me an opportunity to hopefully show them everything and everyone that has become important to me in the past month,” Ellen Fitzharris ’11 said.

Family Fest is not aimed specifically towards visiting parents, but towards all communities at Macalester, “Whether that be your floor, sports team, or student organization,” emphasized Harstaad.

The committee hopes to engage all students on campus despite the hectic mid-term season. Whether students have family coming to campus this weekend or not, it is sure to be a busy weekend, Harstaad said.