The holiday best known for its horrors and frights happens to coincide with the scariest weekend some Muhlenberg students encounter throughout their entire school year: Family Weekend. The combination of Halloween and Family Weekend at Muhlenberg College has the potential to initiate a weekend full of fun or a weekend full of frights for overwhelmed students.
“Family Weekend has been the last weekend in October for many years now, even pre-2020,” says Tim Black regarding the scheduling of Family Weekend. Black, the director of student transitions and family programs at Muhlenberg, is now in his second year of overseeing Family Weekend in conjunction with Ellen Lentine, director of Seegers Union and the student experience. Black explained how Family Weekend, developed in collaboration between the Office of Student Transitions and Family Programs, as well as the Office of Student Life and Campus Events, is scheduled around Halloween for a variety of reasons:
“The College has many full campus events that happen during the Fall semester, including Family Weekend and Alumni Weekend. We have to carefully balance when we are scheduling these events so they are not happening back to back and also make sure we are not scheduling these events too late in the semester, allowing us to take advantage of utilizing outdoor spaces and having beautiful weather like we did this weekend. We also try to schedule the weekend in conjunction with significant campus activities, such as Theater & Dance productions and athletic events.”
All of these factors made this past weekend the perfect time to invite families to campus, but there is another factor that made the timing even more perfect: that it would coincide with “Halloweekend,” or the weekend in which students would be attending Halloween-themed parties. Many students have hypothesized that administrators schedule Family Weekend at the same time as Halloweekend to discourage students from engaging in possibly harmful activities often associated with parties. Even though the College seems to take preemptive measures against underage drinking during Halloween weekend, some students question the extent to which administrators are able to accomplish this goal. Isabelle Peters ‘24 mentioned, “I think it’s super on purpose to keep us tame for Halloweekend even though it doesn’t work.”
“I think it’s super on purpose to keep us tame for Halloweekend even though it doesn’t work.”Isabelle Peters ’24
The College does not turn a blind eye to the fact that students enjoy going out around this time, as proven by an email sent out by Dean of Students Allison Williams the Thursday before Family Weekend and Halloween Weekend containing reminders and infographics educating students on drinking responsibly, respecting neighbors and being respectful with costume choices. However, the simultaneous scheduling of Family Weekend events, plus extracurricular and academic showings, plus Halloween parties leads students to feel a lot of pressure during this time.
“Personally, I think it’s incredibly overwhelming,” said Amélie Parczany ‘25, one student who felt pressure from all these events happening at the same time, even though her parents were not attending. She continued,“My parents and I decided that it didn’t make sense for them to come this weekend because in the past I’m so stressed to see them amongst everything else going on so we couldn’t really enjoy time together.”
“My parents and I decided that it didn’t make sense for them to come this weekend because in the past I’m so stressed to see them amongst everything else going on so we couldn’t really enjoy time together.”Amélie Parczany ’25
Roz Duston ‘24 communicated similar thoughts with the statement, “Horrible idea. Trick or treating often happens the weekend prior and my mom likes to be there and greet the kids. Also, it’s an overwhelming time in the semester for school work, and don’t even get me started on putting a damper on all the student-run Halloween festivities.” These accounts from Parczany and Duston suggest that the scheduling of Family Weekend around Halloween even leaves families reluctant to attend.
The scheduling of Family Weekend and Halloweekend poses some benefits for the student body in that those who prefer not to go to parties have an alternative option with the various Muhlenberg-sanctioned activities they have available to them. Black went on to describe the various events that were scheduled over the weekend, and it is the nighttime events specifically that ensure students have an enjoyable Halloweekend no matter what they are doing:
“This year we had tons of events for families to enjoy. Friday night we provided trivia and bingo. Saturday afternoon we hosted a ‘Pack the Plaza’ event where we showcased some of Muhlenberg’s talented student performance groups. We also had giveaways like bamboo plants and DIY colorful tote bags. Saturday night was our Muhlenberg Activities Council showcase, where students and families could participate in campus favorites like headphone disco, stuff-a-plush and custom street signs. Overall it was a very successful weekend with lots of positive feedback from both students and families.”
Even so, most students who reached out with thoughts on Family Weekend expressed that it would be best to change the scheduling so the family events do not coincide with Halloween weekend. Tegan McMonagle ‘26 said, “Moving Family Weekend will give more freedom for scheduling Halloween plans,” while another anonymous student said, “Getting only two days for Halloween with friends but also to see my family was really hard.”
One goal of Family Weekend may be to discourage students from activities they would not do in the presence of their families, but this is limited by the fact that students tend to engage in these activities regardless. This scheduling conflict becomes very overwhelming for students with the combination of their daytime responsibilities and the pressures of nightlife.