Photo by Sutha Kamal / CC BY-SA 2.0
More than seven weeks before Penn's annual Family Weekend is slated to commence, parents of students are already beginning to make excuses as to why they won't be able to make the trip to Philadelphia.
"He said he's going on a business trip that weekend," said Gregory Perella (C '21), whose father called him late last Thursday to break the news that he wouldn't be visiting between October 27 and 29, at that point still eight weeks away. Perella had no choice but to oblige: "I told him it was fine. It would have been nice to see him, sure, but I know he's probably really busy now that I—his only child—am finally out of the house."
Perella was not the only student to see his family back out of the event so far in advance. Stephanie Zink (E '18), whose parents have never attended Family Weekend, was hoping that her last year of college would provide the perfect reason for her parents and siblings to "drive in from New Jersey and experience the Penn campus" as a family. But just yesterday, her mother informed her via text message that "It'll probably be raining those days, so maybe it's not worth it [to come]." Zink was dismayed, and for good reason. "She said the same thing sophomore year."
Although students across all classes were affected by flaky families, freshmen seemed to have been hit the hardest, at least emotionally. "I'll admit," said Jay Pelland (C '21), "it kinda hurts." He had called his mother earlier in the day to catch up and say hello, as he does every week. But when he casually mentioned that he was excited to spend time with her in Philadelphia's museums over Family Weekend, he heard the line go silent. "She just kind of cleared her throat and said 'Hm, you know what honey? I think I'm actually going to be sick that day.' And that was it. She hung up."
Pelland, while deeply upset by his mother's aversion to spending time with him, was able to find comfort in his hallmates, many of whom experienced a similar letdown. "Out of my 16 hallmates, 9 of them already know their parents won't come," Pelland said, "and that's not even counting the international kids."
At least, for students like Pelland, the old adage provides hope: "There's always next year."