As family structures change, Syracuse University broadens support by introducing Family Weekend
As family structures change, Syracuse University broadens support by introducing Family WeekendJune 15, 2007Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
When parents and families of Syracuse University students converge on the SU campus this Nov. 9-11 for what is traditionally known as Parents Weekend, they will enjoy familiar activities such as a football game, academic dean’s breakfasts and time spent with their students. This year, however, the event will mark an evolutionary shift in focus, as Parents Weekend will now be known as Family Weekend. The special weekend, held on the SU campus for more than 50 years, gives parents and family members the opportunity to immerse themselves in their SU students’ campus experience.
“Syracuse University is one of many universities with a longstanding, proud tradition of service to traditional and non-traditional family constituencies alike, but even the most progressive institutions must be increasingly responsive to the fact that student and family populations are much more diverse than they have been in the past — and that students’ and families’ needs are evolving rapidly as a result,” says Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “By renaming this weekend to include all family members, we are sending the message that this is a time for all parents and family members to engage with their students’ Syracuse University experience.”
Colleen O’Connor Bench, director of SU’s Parents Office and recipient of the Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement’s (APPI) 2007 Susan E. Brown Award as the nation’s leading higher-education family services administrator, says that universities can no longer assume that students come only from families with a mother and father as the primary support system.
“Not only do we recognize that grandparents, aunts and older siblings play a parenting role in some families, we must also consider that same-sex parents, guardians and other people in strong mentoring roles are represented right alongside traditional moms and dads as people who are critical to helping our students make the most of the Syracuse University experience,” says Bench. “For this reason, we selected a name change that underscores the historical importance of building inclusiveness into our beloved tradition.”
For more information on Family Weekend activities, visit the Parents Office website at http://parents.syr.edu.