Last weekend marked the first year that McGill’s Parents Weekend was fully integrated into Homecoming, an annual three-day event that welcomes alumni back to the university.
Although the two occasions were advertised separately in previous years, parents were informed this year that McGill would not be hosting a seperate Parents Weekend, but would instead invite parents to participate in events alongside alumni as part of Homecoming.
Derek Cassoff, Director of Communications for Development and Alumni Relations, said that the merging of the two events was motivated by numerous factors, including the provincial government’s cuts to McGill’s budget announced last December.
“The budget cuts […] have forced us to look at all of our programming across the board and see if there are opportunities to streamline things,” Cassoff said. “In this case there won’t be any major differences for parents who would normally come.”
Cassoff said that merging the two programs did not produce marked differences in what McGill offered parents, aside from the cancellation of the Parents Association Annual Dinner.
“It’s more of a realignment of the services we provide all of our community members—alumni, parents, friends, donors,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is making homecoming more inclusive to include not just alumni, but also other members of the McGill community who migwht be interested in celebrating with us.”
Cassoff said that the merge was also motivated by the desire to maximize turnout from both alumni at Homecoming and parents at Parents’ Tent in August, when parents are more likely to visit the city.
“It’s really a question of being strategic with the resources that we had,” he said.
Linda Good, a McGill parent from Oklahoma who has attended Parents Weekend every year for the past four years, said she phoned the McGill Alumni Association when she heard that the weekend had been cancelled. Although Good did attend Homecoming in its place, she said she was disappointed that it had been integrated into Homecoming.
“[Parents Weekend] gave us a better picture of what McGill is like—the student body—from a parents’ perspective,” she said.
Cassoff said that Homecoming and Parents Weekend programming will continue to be hosted together next year, but that feedback from attendees and changes to Homecoming would be considered later on in the semester.