For students whose homes are hours away from Oklahoma Christian University, weekends on campus may feel like a ghost town.
While the university is alive and active on weekdays, many students visit home on the weekends. Students who now live far from home do not have this option.
This is why three freshmen began the Weekenders: a group of students who meet every weekend to hang out with those who may not live close to home.
Leah Oguntope, a freshman from Houston, Texas, came up with the idea for a new group on campus after she noticed how quiet the Oklahoma Christian campus became on weekends.
“I can’t go home whenever I want to,” Oguntope said. “There are students who are from different continents and I thought, ‘Imagine how this feels; not being able to go home.’ I decided to start a club for people who can’t go home on the weekends so they don’t feel homesick and lonely.”
Oguntope recruited her friends Ja’naya Hayes and Emily Martin to create an official club. Hayes is from Mississippi and Martin is from Moore, Oklahoma.
“Leah came to us and said, ‘Everyone’s going home this weekend, but here we are,’” Hayes said. “She took the idea to [Student Life], we met together and we found sponsors and people to donate.”
The group hosts events every Saturday at 2 p.m. Past events have included cupcakes and video games or candy apple making. Students of all class rank are welcome, as well as students who are from near or far.
“It’s open to anybody,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t matter if you live 10 minutes away or a 17-hour flight away.”
According to Oguntope, it is important for students to feel comfortable on campus since Oklahoma Christian brands itself as a welcoming environment.
“I want to make sure everyone feels at home,” Oguntope said. “As they say, ‘OC is home,’ but when people are in their dorms all weekend, it’s not. We want to make sure everyone gets the full OC experience and that they are home.”
Hayes said some students may not enjoy attending university-sponsored events, but might be interested in the Weekenders.
“A lot of [OC events] go unnoticed,” Hayes said. “Some people never leave their dorm room. I want to reach out to those people, because being alone a long time is not best for mental health. Hopefully, they know that there is always someone there to talk.”
Martin said she got involved because she empathizes with those who cannot go home often.
“Since I live in Moore, I can go home nearly whenever I want, but some people don’t have that luxury,” Martin said. “I want people to feel loved on the weekend and know people are here for them, regardless of whether they live far away or not.”
Hayes said the group has attracted a growing number of students from a variety of backgrounds.
“At our volleyball tournament, we had someone from every grade and a lot of majors represented,” Harris said. “It’s always more people than we expect.”
In addition, Hayes said they hope to make the Weekenders a lasting presence at Oklahoma Christian.
“Our sponsors said they’ve never seen a group of people take the initiative to say, ‘Here’s an idea, let’s run with it’ for a club like this,” Hayes said. “Hopefully after we graduate, it will still be going on.”
The Weekenders will be hosting a pumpkin contest event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, in the Branch. Pumpkins will be provided on a first come, first serve basis and the winner will receive a gift card.