VIEWPOINT: ‘Family Weekend’ excludes families

St. Edward’s University is capable of being family friendly, particularly during orientation and move in, but the university misses the mark during the so called “Homecoming and Family Weekend.”

It can be a wholesome reunion for Catholic families that enjoy sports, but other families are left to their own devices for entertainment, and while the city of Austin is a great outlet to have at one’s disposal, St. Edward’s fails to provide the family weekend that other universities treat their communities to.

The university has mastered how to coordinate the same programs and events as larger universities on a smaller scale, such as the Hilltopper Welcome Days and Hillfest, so why have we not done the same for Family Weekend?

At the very least, the existing events could use further consideration. Of the 34 events listed, 28 are intended for parents. Yet, 12 of those are sporting events and three are invite only. Also, three one-hour long tours of campus is too much allotted time for such a dry activity.

As of now, the events that are the major attractions and generate the highest turnout are Casino Night and the Game Day Tailgate, and neither of these are catered for families, but rather current students.

It can create awkward situations when bringing your parents to these events. Last year, I tried to juggle time between my dad and my friends, but it proved difficult to socialize with both. So this year, my dad is staying home, while I compete on a Homecoming team.

While students can attend both of these with their family, it is not enough to keep families fully engaged for an entire weekend since the excitement covers a span of less than 24 hours.

Homecoming and Family Weekend is a fun and enjoyable time, but not in the way that it is marketed and portrayed. While a modest budget is held and students have a reason to celebrate school spirit, it is limited to that, the students.

For example, a 2014 New York Times article describes college family weekend at Wesleyan University, which is “a three-day festival featuring office hours with the dean, a stargazing event sponsored by the Astronomy Department, seminars (“Parenting Through the Job Search”) and boomer empowerment sessions (“The End of Back Pain”). It even cites the University of Texas at Austin having 95 events throughout its family weekend.

Now, St. Edward’s doesn’t have an astronomy department, nor do we have an enrollment or funding size anywhere near these universities. However, we do have some brilliant faculty and staff that are capable of dedicating time to meet parents and hold discussions or seminars.

It’s understandable that many would want a weekend to themselves after a busy week of work, but I am asking for one weekend out of the year for each school to host an open house. This also presents the opportunity to promote university accomplishments.

If there is no expansion of true family events in the years to come, it is incorrect to refer to it as a “family weekend.” False advertising is to blame. The small amount of family events requires families to go off campus for a good time, and in that instance, families can visit any other ordinary weekend.