It was a beautiful weekend, as Rider was blanketed by sunlight and warm, comfortable air. But even as I strolled across the campus green this past weekend, that was not what really caught my attention. Instead, I was infatuated with the number of people I saw all across our sunlit campus. It was Family Weekend, and that fact was fully clear.
I saw families making their way to Starbucks. I saw parents and siblings finding food in Daly’s Dining Hall. I saw groups of people walking everywhere, from around the dorms to the Alumni Gym.
It was one of a few weekends this semester that Rider was bustling with more life and energy than usual.
This change is indicative of some major strides the university is making. Since I first set foot on this campus three years ago, one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard is that it is a “suitcase school.” But this past weekend, it seemed anything but.
Family Weekend was advertised as three days of events that students could enjoy alongside their family and friends. And the sheer number and variety of these events were impressive. The weekend hosted events at Westminster, various sports games, including the men’s and women’s basketball exhibition games, a game of Family Feud and even a special version of everyone’s favorite, Bronc Bingo.
Regardless of the day or time, there was always something happening or somewhere to be. And there were options for everyone, from the artsy student who wanted to hear the Westminster Chapel Choir, to the sporty student who couldn’t wait for the hockey game against Penn State, and anyone in between.
However, the true success in the planning of this weekend transcends the interests of Rider students. The events and games set up for this weekend, while keeping students in mind, were also intended to appeal to students’ families. They were intended to appeal to people who were not Rider students, faculty or staff.
Adopting this mindset moving forward can help Rider be more inclusive of the community. If our neighbors also partook in events here, the entire campus would be invigorated. Not only would the campus look more alive, but it would be more welcoming to potential students visiting campus. The new sense of liveliness might also encourage current campus residents to stay here more often.
Of course, this weekend was intended to be extravagant and fun. However, why should this mindset of planning events be restricted to a single weekend in the year?
While we may not need this number of things to do every week, those planning and putting together events should certainly look to this past weekend as an example of what to consider. Rider should continue to offer variety and offer experiences that can keep both students and non-students engaged. And in the coming weeks, many exciting events mirroring the appeal of Family Weekend are already dawning upon us.
In this month alone, our campus will have multiple opportunities to engage both the Rider and outside communities. The campus will host various events for Veterans Day, including flag planting and a ceremony on Nov. 11 outside North Hall. From Nov. 16-20, the show “White Christmas” will also be performed in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater. The Nov. 18 presentation is already sold out. On the evening of Nov. 18 will be my personal favorite two events, the Celebration of Lights which acknowledges various holiday celebrations across different cultures, and the Lighting of the Library. And all of this is just a sampling of what’s to come.
However, reinvigorating campus is unfortunately not as simple as having a lot of events or sports games. It is all meaningless if student residents still head home or hide in their dorms. It means nothing if commuters don’t want to come back to campus. And it truly is pointless if faculty or administrators don’t partake either.
We should also share in the excitement of what is happening around our campus. Not only should we participate, but we should spread the word and motivate others to participate in events at Rider as well. And if we display an active engagement, then the outside community looking in will likely mirror our presence.
The problem is not always in the hands of our university and those who plan its events, games or advertising. Often times, the problem falls at our feet as we walk away from the various opportunities right in front of us, right here on this campus.
We should all take something from this past lively and luminous Family Weekend. If we want to reignite our campus with excitement, we all have to engage and enjoy. This past weekend was all about community and unity, but there is no reason that should end as the weekend does.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 11/9/16 issue.