Annual Sibs Day scratched for a second year

Sibs Day, a popular event in previous years in which siblings get to spend a weekend around campus, has been cancelled for the second year in a row. // Photos courtesy of parents.gatech.edu

For the second year in a row, Sibs Day at Tech has been cancelled.

The event, first created in the spring of 2015, typically hosts siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews and family friends for a day full of fun and educational activities that allow participants to experience life at Tech. Sibs Day is organized by Parent and Family Programs, a division of Student Life.  

Laci Weeden, director of Parent and Family Programs, recently discussed the reasoning behind this year’s Sibs Day cancellation with the Technique.

“Early trends in registration showed the number of participants would outpace capacity for venues in the manner we typically use them, especially in order to provide physical distancing while responding to the pandemic,” Weeden said.

“Extra staffing, transportation and logistical support for events and meals meant the program would exceed budget to provide close to the same level of interaction and engagement as in past years.”

Typical events for Sibs Day in previous years included meals at Tech’s dining halls, campus tours, basketball games in McCamish Pavilion and different options for interacting on campus.  

“[Participants were previously able to] choose from a variety of educational and engaging workshops such as how to make and launch your own bottle rocket or construct a container to protect an egg in an egg drop or check out the Invention Studio or Robotarium.

The afternoon [typically wrapped] up with fun activities like bowling, movies, dinner and a community service project,” Weeden said.

The day-long event has proved effective at accomplishing its mission of helping siblings and family members understand more about their relative’s life as a Tech student.

“In our survey after Sibs Day 2019, when asked if, ‘As a result of attending Sibs Day, my family member(s) has/have a better understanding of Georgia Tech campus life and my student’s college experience’ (Yes/No), almost all parents (96.43%) reported that their younger child had a better idea of what their older sibling was doing at college,” Weeden said.

In the past, Sibs Day also helped to encourage younger students to start thinking about their future in college and create opportunities for bonding experiences and lasting memories among family members.

“I think, in general, it was just nice to show my sister what kinds of stuff we get to do around campus,” said Ashley Thomas, fourth-year BIO, who attended Sibs Day in 2019. “Whether it was a men’s basketball game, meeting the K-9 units or even walking to Tech Square, she had a great time seeing what I do when I am not at home. Your sibs can visit you at any time, but there’s something special about showing off the best that campus has to offer.” 

Sibs Day’s popularity made the choice to cancel very difficult.

“It was disappointing to need to make this decision,” Weeden said. “We know it’s popular for families, and it’s popular among staff members as well, so we did not make the decision lightly.”

For students and siblings still looking to connect this semester, Parent and Family Programs is planning alternative activities.

“Time connecting with students and family is important, so we will be sharing a list of ways families can connect on their own with students during this time. So even though they don’t get a formal program, and this will not replace Sibs Day, they will and should have a chance to connect in a fun, meaningful way,” Weeden said.

Weeden shared some of these tips.

“Set up a time to video chat with your sibling and check in with them,” Weeden said. “Send postcards or cards to each other — it is nice to get sweet notes in the mail. Care packages are always appreciated, as well. Remember that your Georgia Tech student is very busy, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t think about you and miss you, too!”

Additional tips for connecting with siblings will be shared on the Sibs Day website (parents.gatech.edu/sibs-day/sibs-day) and social media.