Parents’ lounge provides respite

How disconcerting it must be, on the first day of a new life, to approach a strange mailbox, dial an unfamiliar code, struggle with a stubborn latch for a minute and finally open it to gaze into a metallic cubbyhole with a window to an anonymous room beyond.

How comforting it must be for students to see a brightly colored letter inside with their own name on it, written in their parents’ handwriting, impossible in this strange place but nonetheless in front of their eyes.

And what a relief for their parents to have a place where they can compose such a message, in addition to relaxing a little after a long day of moving in. “The letters are usually about how proud they are of their kids,” said Mary Gardner, director of alumni relations.

This was the experience that several hundred incoming students and their parents had on Aug. 25, the move-in day for incoming students, thanks to a group of veteran EU parents who call themselves the Parents Council.

Signs around campus directed parents to Baird Library in Walton, which was transformed for the day into a haven for worn out, emotional parents who had just let their little birds fly from the nest. Tissues, chocolates, refreshments and cheerful stationery lined folding tables. Members of the Parents Council hugged new additions to their ranks and offered advice on how to best handle the transition that they themselves underwent in previous years.

Also available were copies of the Homefront newsletter for families, issues of Spirit magazine and packets of information about the Eastern community.

“It’s just to give the parents of the incoming students a place to go, to be refreshed, to talk to the veteran parents who have made this transition before,” said Lori Bristol, assistant registrar. “They’ll come in to get some refreshments, to rest a little bit, they’ll talk to veteran parents, some will cry, they’ll pray together, they’ll write letters, whatever helps them.”

“It’s a real milestone,” Gardner said, “and they’re all feeling it together.”

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