Sunshine and 60 degree weather replaced February’s usual snowbanks for Junior Parents Weekend 2017. The Class of 2018 shared their home away from home with their parents and celebrated their accomplishments — including junior Henry Long’s “Chandelier” music video parody, which Fr. Jenkins played during his address at the President’s Dinner.
But not all junior parents come to campus. Junior Patrick Rodgers says though he and and his parents were excited about JPW and events like academic open houses, they decided not to attend.
“I just kept thinking how much money it would cost,” Rodgers says. “Just the upfront cost of flights and hotels and car rentals… those sorts of costs seemed like a barrier.”
The Office of Student Enrichment under the Division of Student Affairs provides funds to help students and their families attend JPW and similar events. The office, which opened in October, is taking responsibility of the Rector Fund to create a more standardized system of enrichment funding.
“We are trying to figure out how we do an outreach and how we talk about Welcome Weekend, JPW, Commencement and all those times when parents come to campus,” says Marc Burdell, Program Director of Student Enrichment.
The office worked with students to help defray costs for JPW, such as travel expenses. Funding is determined by an individual request and based on financial eligibility and need, Burdell says. Rogers says he initially did not know about Office of Student Enrichment funding. Even so, he says it seems like too much to ask the university.
“To cover the cost of JPW, thousands of dollars would be funneled in to fund my two family members,” he says. “I don’t think I would contact the office in order to receive those funds.”
Burdell enjoyed spending time with the 10-15 families the office helped bring to Junior Parents Weekend, he says. “I’m always amazed at the attendance, all the events are just jam-packed and everyone’s very excited.”
That number is likely to increase, however. “I think once we come up with an objective way to offer a benefit and make the program more accessible, sure, we’ll have more students,” Burdell says.
These changes communicate that the university is eager to invest in lowincome students, Rodgers says. “Cutting out some of the middle men in order to go to the university for certain enrichment needs is definitely something that is beneficial and feels less stigmatized,” he says. “A lot of people don’t feel comfortable identifying as a low-income student, so it almost gives them a confidant.”
Rodgers did attend the Junior Parents Weekend mass at the invitation of a friend and his family.
“That had a profound impact… knowing that I myself and even my family, though they weren’t there, are still a part of the Notre Dame community,” he says. Rodgers adds, “It’s such a great experience to be able to bring your parents to the place where you go to school, and show them how much growth that you’ve gone through.”