Quinnipiac University unveiled plans for Bobcat Weekend on Oct. 29-31, for parents and alumni, but with a brand new price tag of $50-100, in a communication earlier this month.
Bobcat Weekend is a combination of events and presentations over a long weekend, featuring speeches, sports and food. In the past, Quinnipiac had two separate events, Alumni and Parents and Family weekends, but this year the university merged both into a single long weekend.
“We are all members of Bobcat Nation. Alumni and families will have the opportunity to interact with each other and share experiences as one Bobcat family,” said Karla Natale, the associate vice president for university events and community partnerships at Quinnipiac.
For family and alumni to participate in Bobcat Weekend events, they are required to pay a fee. In the past, participants only would pay a fee for each individual event, according to Natale.
For families of up to four people, excluding students, the cost is $50, and for families of five or more the cost is doubled. The default fee for alumni is $100 per person — $50 for access to events and $50 as a “gift” to the university.
Instead of focusing on the presentations and activities Quinnipiac has planned, such as President Judy Olian’s State of the University address and sporting events, some parents are focused on the cost of attending Bobcat Weekend.
In an informal survey The Chronicle conducted, with 121 respondents, parents largely called the fees “ridiculous,” “frustrating” and “unnecessary.”
“I have heard of other schools doing this. But (I) don’t think it is right,” said Chris Cantone, a parent of a sophomore student. “Given they did not host anything last year, they should have (the) budget available to welcome not only the freshmen class but the sophomore class that was robbed of the QU orientation and year-round events. It is almost like they forgot the class of 2024 all together.”
One common complaint among parents is being uninformed of what they’re paying for, with some alleging the fee is unnecessary due to the high cost of tuition. Some suggested that the fee should be on a person-per-person basis, since not everyone could or would have more than one person attend.
However, some parents were more forgiving of the cost due to the toll COVID-19 has had on Quinnipiac and other institutions.
“While the fees were not explained which would have been nice, I honestly do not have an issue with them at this time. This past year and a half has taken its toll on many businesses, and colleges are no different,” said Francine Sanger, a parent of a first-year student. “I am sure there have been many expenses that were not planned for due to COVID. My fee was $50 which I do not believe is excessive.”
Natale said the fees Quinnipiac collected from over 500 families and alumni are going directly to cover operational costs.
“We are not looking to earn money, but rather to offset expenses,” Natale said. “The focus of Bobcat Weekend is to bring alumni, parents and families together while offering a variety of programming both academic and informative as well as entertaining and enjoyable.”
Parents Weekend was initially planned for the weekend of Oct. 16, before it was moved to Oct. 29, in an email sent in early August. Many parents planned their accommodations weeks or months in advance, leaving them scrambling to change their reservations.
“I made my travel arrangements back in May, which includes Airbnb, car, and flights,” said Shari Dinnel, a parent of a first-year student from Bell, California. “It is a really inconsiderate inconvenience to change it with such little notice and communication.”
Sanger said the uproar over Bobcat Weekend could be another symptom of a larger problem for the university while recommending the administration to be more transparent about its plans.
“I believe communication is key. Consequently, explaining the charge (especially if previously there wasn’t one) would have been prudent on the part of the university,” Sanger said. “Many parents were not happy with the charge but might have felt differently if they understood why it was implemented.”
Parents also expressed their concerns about the lack of access to big-ticket sporting events, such asMen’s Ice Hockey game against the American International CollegeYellow Jackets, which are not included in the fees. Tickets are only available through Quinnipiac Athletics, which provides limited seating for families and alumni, while the remaining tickets are reserved for students.
Several parents, who answered the survey anonymously, complained about the lack of tickets, attributing the shortage to alumni. Other parents, like Ru Jurow, said that they would just look elsewhere for activities.
“I actually think there could be more fun activities to do with our college students rather than presentations from faculty or a hockey game that most parents could not even scoop up tickets to attend,” Jurow said.
In response to parental criticism, Chief Experience Officer Tom Ellett announced last week that the university would launch the Parents Advisory Board, which would create a new medium for parents to raise their concerns alongside the Parents Council.
Update 9/22/2021: The university changed its pricing for alumni on Sept. 22, after The Chronicle distributed its print issue. The full weekend will cost alumni $60 for up to two people and $120 for 2-4 people.