Homecoming always promises a week full of fun for the University community. There is an expectation that the University unite and celebrate togetherness. However, these expectations often go unmet for many students. Festivities focused on greeks, residence halls and football leave out many more students than they include.
Those primarily excluded are commuters, comprising about 75 percent of University students. Commuters have to make an extra effort to get involved at any level, doing so by either choosing to participate alongside a student club or organization or by merely attending the football game.
Everyone in the University community is, of course, encouraged to join in all the festivities but, when actually doing so, can feel overwhelmed by the strong presence of those who are heavily involved. Walking with just a few friends into an auditorium full of chanting greeks can be a bit intimidating.
Experiences like these can make it hard for students to want to participate in future homecoming activities. Being that it takes place at the beginning of the year, it can serve as the first campus-related event first-year students might choose to attend. If a sense of rejection is felt so early in one’s experiences at the University, it is more likely that student will choose not to take part in future events such as these. This could create a domino effect with each year of incoming first-year students pulling further and further from campus life.
This year, the University lucked out with a great football game to end the week. The spirit of the huge turnout at the Metrodome was definitely high after beating Purdue on Saturday. However, for many students, this is all the spirit felt during homecoming week.
The Student Activities Office should look for ways to include a more diverse collection of its students and community in traditions like homecoming. Instead of focusing on individual groups, it should work towards bringing the community together.
The discouragement that often comes along with pushing football and greek life during homecoming can hurt the overall connectivity many students need in order to call the University home. Homecoming should be a celebration, not a negative experience.