It is really cold here, and last night the wind was fierce. For any students already here on campus, bundle up.

I got a message today asking for some clarification on when residence halls will be reopening. Here is the exact language that was used in the email students received:

“Students returning to their fall housing do not need to check in and may return to campus beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 11 and throughout the weekend. Students checking into housing for the spring semester must check in to pick up their keys. Check-in will be available as follows:

Friday, January 11 – Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Office of Residence Life and Housing (located in the lower level of Angelou Residence Hall)

Saturday, January 12 – Between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. in residential communities

Sunday, January 13 – Between noon and 5 p.m. in residential communities”

You can (and should) read the full message here if you didn’t already.

On a related note: a few folks in the Daily Deacdom have asked opinions about when their students should return given the potential for wintry weather. I very rarely feel comfortable making those kinds of recommendations (a lot of factors to consider: type of car, experience driving in snow, etc.). The best I can suggest is that you take a look at the weather outlet(s) of your choice, consult airports (if flying) or department of transportation (if driving) and make the best decision for you. Some local weather outlets are: WXIIWGHPWFMY and Spectrum News 14.

To close out this Thursday, I will note that sorority recruitment continues, and it can be a tough time because while it could bring joys, it could also bring disappointments. My wish is that everyone has a positive experience, but in case you get a frantic phone call about things not going so smoothly, what should you do?

– First of all, take some deep breaths. While your daughter may sound stressed, upset, angry, etc., remember that this is the heat of the moment for her. The calmer you stay, the better.

– Let your daughter vent; your goal is to listen and respond with empathy. This is an opportunity for your daughter to learn how to process negative emotions and work through them on her own – which is something she will need to do for the rest of her life. Better to build those skills now.

– Instead of offering solutions of what you can do for her, instead ask your daughter how she thinks she will want to handle her situation. Let her seek her own solutions, so she learns to build problem solving and resiliency. Ask questions like:  what have you considered doing? what are your options?   

– Encourage her to take advantage of on campus support systems. If she does not know where to turn, you might ask a few leading questions “Isn’t there a University Counseling Center? Have you considered confiding in your RA or a trusted mentor? Can your Gamma Rho Chi (Greek Recruitment Counselor) be a resource?” Parents and families, you should know that these resources are ready and waiting should your students need them.

– Sometimes a loved one’s first reaction to the frantic phone call is to offer to come to campus to be with their daughter or offer to fly them home. Before you do that, think that through very carefully. For some young women, being removed from all her other friends and support outlets on campus might have an adverse (and unintended) effect of making her sit at home (or in a hotel room with mom) and just stew and stew and stew about the situation, which could be counterproductive. In addition, letting your daughter leave campus might rob her of the opportunity to figure out how to process unhappiness and negative feelings on her own – if you are providing a well-meaning distraction to keep her mind off her sorority situation, she might not be building those self-care and resiliency skills – because she is looking to you to provide all that. Also, classes start on Monday, and with wintry weather possible, she would not want to risk getting stuck at home.

While no one wants to have an unhappy daughter if recruitment is not what she’d hoped, please remember that students typically vent their frustrations to Mom and Dad and family members, and after they have vented their spleen, they feel better. Unfortunately now YOU are carrying the burden of worrying about your student.

Remember – and tell your daughter – that time provides perspective and healing after disappointments. What feels like a Major Disaster today won’t feel like that forever, so take the long view. A personal story: my ’06 niece had a really tough recruitment process. She ended up not getting the group she wanted, and had to find other ways to get involved on campus for the spring – which she did. The relationships she built with her student organization provided some of the best friendships of her Wake career – and she ended up going through recruitment the following spring and getting her first choice then.

For this reason, I love the old saying “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”


— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94


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