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Sibs Weekend: The tradition continues

Jan. 27, 2005

By Cassie Lynott

One of Ohio University's most anticipated special events, Sibs Weekend, takes place Friday, Feb. 4 through Sunday, Feb. 6. This weekend tradition is an introduction into college life for younger siblings and a way to spend time with much-missed brothers, sisters and friends.

Sibs Weekend has evolved over the years. It was first proposed as an alumni fundraiser in 1968 by the combined efforts of Ohio University and the Ohio University Women's Club of Greater Cleveland. The original concept, called Little Sisters and Brothers Weekend, replaced alumni garage sale fundraisers with chartered buses transporting siblings to Athens. After a successful first year with more than 200 siblings on board buses from Cleveland, the numbers continued to climb and expand.

Today round trip bus accommodations are arranged through the Alumni Association and its individual chapters in Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Last year, 23 busloads with 1,150 siblings turned out for the festivities. Siblings pay a fee to ride the bus and proceeds from the buses provide scholarships to students in each chapter city.

Senior art history major Rachel Wenzke attended many Sibs Weekends by bus when she was younger to visit her older sisters Liesl, BSHSS '99, and Erika, BS '02. Now that her sisters have graduated, it is Wenske's turn to host the weekend for them. Her sisters fly in from different parts of the country each year to continue the tradition.

"It was exciting to see so many other kids your age on the bus," Wenske remembers. "It was the first time I got to experience Ohio University other than just moving my sister down."

Wenzke works with the Student Alumni Board (SAB) helping to make sure all the siblings are reunited when the buses come in. "It's been a good experience for me," she says. "I feel like I get to give back to the kids because I know what it is like to be in their shoes."

Once arriving on campus, the buses unload behind the Convocation Center. Chaperones and SAB and Alumni Association volunteers will stay until all of the children have been picked up by their brother or sister. Students living in residence halls must register their guests before arrival and the Alumni Association is not responsible for the children once they are with the students. As a courtesy, if a sibling will not be returning by bus, they need to notify the bus chaperone.

While on campus, sibs can participate in a large range of social, recreational and athletic activities, including ice skating, recreational activities at Ping Center, a midnight movie at the Athena, ice hockey games and basketball games and various programs put on by student groups.

Judith Johnson, director of heritage, traditions and alumni tours for the Alumni Association, has been with the department for 20 years. She has spent the last 16 of those years in charge of special weekends.

"The best part about my job is the faces of the kids and the university students on Friday when the sibs arrive," Johnson says. "They're so excited."

Space on the buses for this weekend may still be available in some of the participating cities. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/alumni/calendar/sibs/ and contact the volunteer chaperone in the appropriate area.

In addition to Sibs Weekend, the University also celebrates Homecoming, Moms, Dads, and Fall and Winter Quarter Parents weekends. For information on family weekends and for a full schedule of Sibs Weekend events, visit www.ohiou.edu/familyweekends/sibs/.

Cassie Lynott is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.

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