OU weekend traditions promote sexism

Mehraz Rahman

Editor’s note: Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, our sources spoke to us on the condition of anonymity.

For those that do not attend UT, the traditions surrounding Red River Rivalry Weekend are confusing. Traditionally, male social organizations on campus arrange a three-day trip to Dallas. This often means the girls can only go if they’re invited by a male in one of these groups.

The overall expectation is that the male party will pay for the hotel and bar tab, and in exchange, the female party is expected to painstakingly sand, prime and paint a UT-themed cooler to hold alcohol for the weekend. The problem lies in the inherently unequal nature of these expectations.

“The cooler was seen as some sort of gift,” said a junior in the College of Liberal Arts, who wishes to remain anonymous, in an email. “I know that this is protocol, but it just seemed to play into very traditional gender roles, where the male is chivalrous for paying for my ticket, and I am just doing my job by buying him alcohol.”

An anonymous senior in the McCombs School of Business said that her freshman year OU date said “no” to a soft cooler, wanting a decorated hard cooler instead. For boys in social groups, an intricately designed cooler and the value of the alcohol inside of it are a source of pride, revealing a culture that values material wealth over the company of a date.

She was so traumatized by the additional expectation that she had to share a bed with her date that she snuck out of the hotel to sleep at her parents’ Dallas home. “I hated the fact that I knew that my date would force me to get drunk, and my friends and I were all worried they’d try and hook up with us,” she said.

While this source was lucky enough to avoid the situation, some are not as fortunate.

Another anonymous business junior, who is a member of Greek life, went to Dallas with a close friend and fraternity member, expecting to have a fun-filled weekend. After consuming alcohol, “He made advances on [her] that [she] was not comfortable with,” even though she is religious, and he knew about her views on chastity.

After the assault, she said, “I sat on the floor for half an hour and just cried. He didn’t acknowledge it. We still haven’t exchanged words.” Furthermore, she acknowledged, “I’m not the only one that this happened to, and that’s the sad part.”

Another thing that plays into the culture of OU weekend is the misplaced and overemphasized role that alcohol plays. “It’s this weekend that’s hyped up,” she said. “You’re supposed to be drinking a lot. It’s supposed to be festive.”

Intoxicants, combined with a mentality that the girl owes the guy something for paying for her trip contribute to the culture that allows sexual assaults like these to happen.

“You feel obligated to go with whatever he plans since he’s footing the bill,” she said. Because of this, the source advocates that, in the future, the girl volunteer pay for half of the costs so that the male is less likely to assume an expectation of sex. She also suggests a candid conversation between both parties before the actual weekend happens about sleeping arrangements and alcohol consumption, encouraging girls to voice concern and “take an active role.” This, combined with a concerted effort from the guy’s part, is a step in the right direction to facilitate a shift in this toxic culture.

Rahman is a business and Plan II sophomore from Austin. Follow her on twitter @MehrazR