OPINION | Gendering Parents Weekend creates exclusion in Greek life

Casey Wade, Staff Writer

(Ryan Rainbolt)

In the past decades, America has widely accepted that the nuclear family may look different from household to household, and that a family with one mother, one father and a couple of children should no longer be the expectation. Families may not fit this strict binary due to divorce, death of a parent, LGBTQ + parents and absent parents. Just because a family does not fit the stereotype does not mean they should be excluded from celebrations.

At Tulane University, most Greek organizations host either a “Moms’” or “Dad’” weekend each year. Some sororities and fraternities will do one weekend for moms and then another for dads, but some groups will just pick one — either moms or dads — for the year. 

These events look almost exactly the same except for the gender of the parents invited. There is no known reason for these weekends to be solely dedicated to either moms or dads except for perhaps budgeting, which could easily be solved by asking members to only invite one family member. 

Twenty-three percent of American children are raised by a single parent, and 50% of American children will watch their parents divorce. With the backing of statistics like these, Greek life organizations cannot ignore that they may have plenty of members who would not have either a mother or father figure to bring to their Greek life weekend. 

Feeling ostracized by your sorority or fraternity due to a lack of a parent is a legitimate concern. Tulane junior Elyse Rice said, “I am a Greek life member that does not have a stereotypical relationship with both of my parents. I was raised by my stepfather, who has since passed away. Not being able to participate in my sorority’s Dad’s weekend events is both exclusive and just another painful reminder that I do not have a father in my life.” 

Students who do not have the typical nuclear family have felt this difference their entire life and should feel included in their sorority or fraternity’s events, no matter what their family looks like. 

Furthermore, junior Olivia Barnes said, “Both of my parents work, so it can be very hard for them to schedule visits to New Orleans. It would be easier if Mom or Dad’s weekend was just family weekend because it is more probable I can have at least one family member attend the event.” 

The simple switch to family weekend would make many Greek members and their families feel more noticed in their organizations. A name change would alleviate some pressure on busy families and hopefully give more room for Greek life members to have one of their parents, or even another family member, visit New Orleans. 

At other universities, mom’s or dad’s weekends have already been changed to family weekends in hopes of promoting inclusivity. Washington State University made this change in 2020. 

The University of Idaho renamed Dads’ Weekend and Moms’ Weekend, respectively, “Parent and Family Weekend” in 2018, stating that the schools wanted everyone in their community to feel welcome. 

All Greek organization members and their families should feel welcome and included on campus. Even the average two parent household may have conflicts with any date, and by making this a general family event, it is more likely that at least one family member could join in the festivities. 

Changing these events to a family weekend rather than Moms’ or Dads’ Weekend is an easy switch that could destigmatize non-nuclear families and create more inclusivity in Greek life organizations. This would allow families, no matter what they look like, to visit and enjoy the events that Greek life organizations so carefully and thoughtfully plan. 

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