National Non-Traditional Student Week, a week where colleges across the country host events to recognize non-traditional students, began on Nov. 4. At the University of Kansas, the Student Involvement & Leadership Center is hosting a series of events throughout the week. This year, SILC started off the week with free food at the KU Info Booth on Jayhawk Boulevard Monday.
“Today is our kick-off event, so we’re just passing out free food, trying to get people engaged with our week of programming,” said Tori Williams, a first-year graduate assistant for SILC.
According to SILC’s website, a non-traditional student is defined as any student that:
commutes to campus from at least 10 miles away
is married or has children
is a veteran or has done military service during their academic career
is three years older than classmates of the same grade level or is a graduate student who is 25 or older
The website estimates that non-traditional students make up around a quarter of the KU undergraduate student body. SILC wants to use the events this week to help non-traditional students connect with SILC and to help them through the unique challenges they face during college, said Melissa Attaway, a second-year graduate assistant.
“We’re always available to chat with non-traditional students if they reach out and need specific help connecting to a resource,” Attaway said.
The kick-off event featured free pastries, bottled water and various other refreshments. SILC has other events planned throughout the week. Events later this week include:
A “de-stress lunch” targeted toward students with children from noon to 2 p.m. at Forum C in the Burge Union Wednesday
Breakfast sponsored by the Military-Affiliated Student Center from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Forums C and D in the Burge Union Thursday
The weekly Tea @ 3 event by Student Union Activities in the lobby of the Kansas Union Thursday
A 5K for KU Vets Day Sunday that begins at 9 a.m. at Memorial Stadium
However, the benefits of National Non-Traditional Student Week aren’t simply free food for non-traditional students. Giving non-traditional students a voice and a sense of belonging are the main goals of the events, Williams said.
“I would say that it’s to develop a sense of community for our non-traditional students, to learn from them about what programming they want,” Williams said. “But also to celebrate them and say, 'Hey, we see you. We hear you. We want to support you. We’re so happy that you’re on this campus' and to really show them that they’re celebrated.”