International and out-of-state students alienated by family weekend festivities

As USC gears up for a weekend of family fun October 6 through 9, some students are left out due to the high costs for attendance and inaccessibility of cross-country travel.

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Family weekend is back and bigger than ever this year as COVID travel restrictions have fully relaxed, but many out-of-state and international students said they will not be able to participate in this weekend’s festivities.

The three day event is held each fall and “offers families a snapshot into the life of your USC student and provides an up-close look at how the campus community achieves excellence in teaching, research and public service,” according to the USC Family Weekend website.

The weekend will kick off Thursday with a host of events and seminars, followed by a free concert by new wave 80s band Flock of Seagulls at 8 p.m. facilitated by USC Visions & Voices. Other highlights include receptions with the dean of each school, an address from President Carol Folt and the Trojan Football Rally.

Registration for family weekend costs $125 and will increase to $150 after October 7. This includes all events listed on the 2022 program but increases by an additional $50 if families would like to reserve tailgate spots on campus for the football game against Washington State University at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets to the actual game must be purchased separately and range from $105 to $225. USC does offer scholarships for families to cover registration but not travel costs or accommodations.

These steep prices have deterred some students and their families from participating, especially those who aren’t from California.

Victor Falcon, a sophomore studying business administration, says that his family won’t be visiting from Kyle, Texas for family weekend because of the cost.

“It can easily be a $200 flight, and that’s if you plan it out,” Falcon said. “And the hotels are expensive. I was looking at the prices for the USC Hotel, and that’s like $500 a night.”

Falcon said that the inaccessibility of events like family weekend for out-of-state students can be alienating and has even made him reconsider his choice of school at times.

“To be honest, it’s really hard,” he said. “And like, sometimes I wish I would have gone to UT Austin. But I mean, I’m here at USC. I have to make the most of it. This is my first time away from my family, right? It’s good to experience that.”

Muxuan He, a second year doctoral student, said she feels that family weekend prioritizes students whose families live close or can afford to travel to Los Angeles. She is an international student from China and has not seen her family since last August because of political barriers and financial reasons.

“No one would expect China to be so disconnected from the world and global society at this time,” she said. “So [Chinese international students] feel, maybe abandoned is the word.”

“I didn’t even know there was a family weekend thing going on,” He continued.

Still, other students said they are excited for the chance to celebrate USC’s resurgent football team with their family, especially after many domestic travel restrictions have been lifted.

Alli Hoang, a senior studying health promotion and disease prevention, said she encourages students to make the most of the in-person festivities this weekend.

“In general, take every opportunity,” she said. “With COVID, I feel like I missed out on a lot. So now that we’re in person, just make the most of everything, you know? Go to all the events. Really enjoy your time.”

Even some students whose families won’t be able to make it to campus said they were looking forward to celebrating.

Sophomore journalism student Irene Kim’s mother is currently in Korea and is not flying down for the weekend, but Kim plans on watching the game with her friends’ families.

“I’m excited to meet a lot of my friends’ parents because I feel like I’ve gotten close with so many people here,” Kim said. “Meeting their parents and going to hang out with them would be like, ‘Oh, you’re like a mini-me of them.’”

Families interested in tickets can purchase them here.