GV family fun night

Ben Glick

At Grand Valley State University, student parents balance more than just academics, with childcare and work taking up much of their time. Family Fun Night is geared toward these students.

The event will take place in the Fieldhouse on Oct. 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and aims to provide student-parents a night of entertainment. Activities will include photos, dancing, face painting and more.

The event is put on by the Women’s Center, the Children’s Enrichment Center and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.

Jo Ann Wassenaar, associate director for the Women’s Center, said the event is important for student parents and their children.

“For many, it may be the first time they’ve been able to have their children get to campus where they’re not involved in a class or working,” she said. “It’s fun for the kids to also see where their parents may work or study.”

Wassenaar said she hopes this is a chance for student parents to be able to spend quality time with their children.

“When you’re working or a student, you don’t have a lot of time, so we look at this as just that small break,” she said. “You don’t have to put any money out for it, you can just enjoy the time being with your child.”

While the event is free, Wassenaar said that interested parties should register online at the Women’s Center’s website before attending.

Family Fun Night has been organized by the Women’s Center for over 10 years, and recently has joined forces with the Children’s Enrichment Center and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.

“It used to be just something the Women’s Center offered, but we found through including all these different departments on campus that it made students, faculty and staff more likely they would hear about it and want to participate in it,” Wassenaar said.

Besides offering a way for parents to spend time with their kids, Wassenaar said Family Fun Night also allows students, faculty and staff to meet and interact in a less formal setting.

“We see this as a change for everyone to interact with a diverse group outside of the classroom,” she said. “So faculty and staff get to know the students a little better, and students get to know faculty and staff in a different setting. I think children are that great medium that brings people together, so you all have something in common.”

Wassenaar said juggling both the spheres of academics and parenting is a difficult one, and having an event like this gives student parents a break by letting someone else plan evening activities.

A lot of work has gone into organizing Family Fun Night, but Wassemaar and others said they are ready for the challenge.

“I think because we’ve done it for 10 years now we’re used to knowing what we bring to the table and what we need to do for that event,” Wassenaar said.

Family Fun Night is expected to draw anywhere from 100 to 120 students, faculty, staff and their children.

What will make the night successful, Wassenaar said, is how they designed it to be as hospitable for small children as possible.

“We try to make it an enjoyable, fast-moving time,” she said. “So at the end of the night when they go home, hopefully the little ones then are just ready for bed.”

More information on the event can be found at http://www.gvsu.edu/women_cen/.

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