College can be scary. Classes, work, responsibility, friends, relationships, and separation from home can often become overwhelming. As a freshman, I felt all of these forces converge upon me during my first month at ONU, amplified by the foreign environment and monumental life shift. If you are a freshman as well, you have likely had a similar experience. If you are a returning student, you may distinctly remember your first month on campus.
It is within this framing that the Family and Siblings day was held on September 17th, 2022, exactly one month after the August 17th move-in date for new students. Hosted by the Ohio Northern Student Senate, the day consisted of T-shirts, food trucks, lawn games, an improv show, and a movie. Earlier in the morning, the Ada Harvest and Herb festival took place, complete with a parade and a demonstration by the ONU Marching Band. There were more street vendors, adding plenty of opportunities to get good food. When combined with activities on campus, the resulting conglomerate occupied reunited families for several hours.
Not to be distracted by the fun activities, the ultimate object of Family and Siblings Day was the family itself. For many students, Saturday was the first time they had seen their immediate family since moving into ONU a month ago. Activities and food become immaterial when overshadowed by something significantly more meaningful; this reunion truly was the focus of the event.
Arin Wade is the president of Ohio Northern’s Student Senate. When I asked her about the Student Senate’s mission for Family and Siblings Day, her response was twofold. She stressed the benefit for students reuniting with their families, saying, “Everything we do is in mind of what students want and/or need.” She also went beyond this reason, identifying the “unification of a student’s family and polar bear family” as a higher purpose for the event. She also expressed a desire to represent the university well, hoping students would be “proud of their decision to attend ONU.” In theory, the two core elements of the day’s mission–student satisfaction and unification of the polar bear families–will naturally lead into the school pride Arin hopes to see.
Arin’s vision is illustrated well through the experience of Katie Markley, younger sister of current freshman Sarah Markley. She described seeing her sister again, sarcastically quipping to me,“I’m so happy to see Sarah.” When pressed, she did express a genuine appreciation for the reunion. While visiting, Sarah gave her sister a brief tour of campus. When I asked Katie about her impressions, she said she was struck by how many students know each other, and the atmosphere it creates. In part attributable to ONU’s size, I believe this phenomenon is also evidence of a special student body, consisting of good-hearted and kind people. This is the impression Family and Siblings Day left on campus visitors, and it is a representation most students would be proud to associate with.