Homecomingis an inclusive university event

The Daily editorial board based its article on misrepresentations.

On behalf of the Homecoming Executive Committee and the thousands who participated in homecoming activities, I respond to the Sept. 26 editorial titled “Homecoming excludes many.”

Unfortunately, the Daily editorial board based its editorial on generalizations and misrepresentations and looked past the reality.

Homecoming events are planned to cater to a diverse population of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends of the University of Minnesota and promote school spirit. Planning events that cater to such a diverse audience totaling more than 100,000 is no small task. For this reason, we partner with groups such as University relations, the Alumni Association, Parent Program, Gopher Sports, Housing & Residential Life, Office for Student Affairs and the advisers of the Student Activities Office. We hire committee members to collaborate with specific niches of students and the broader campus and community.

For the past two years we have held open forums to solicit student feedback on potential improvements and have used this feedback. Last spring we offered an online theme submission contest that generated more than 30 submissions. New events included a student spirit competition, a visit from Danny of MTV’s “The Real World: Austin” cast, the Johnny Holm Band on the St. Paul campus, noontime events, obstacle courses, massages and even a free lunch for 5,000. All events were planned to reach out to different students.

The assertion that homecoming doesn’t offer involvement opportunities for unaffiliated students looking to get involved is far-fetched. Homecoming collaborated to offer fall activities fairs to expose students to involvement options on Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, and featured more than 200 student groups. This year’s homecoming Web site featured a special section called “Involvement Opportunities” that specifically targeted students who were not affiliated with a residence hall, greek chapter or student organization. We introduced the “campus and community” competition category, which was created solely to encourage unaffiliated students to participate in the homecoming competitions.

The editorial also argued commuter students are excluded due to the timing of events. On the contrary, homecoming events take place throughout all times of the day and night, planned strategically to accommodate the vast array of students’ schedules. In fact, homecoming events were spread to occur evenly between weekend, weekday and weekday evening times.

Finally, the claim that the football game was the event where school spirit was illustrated could not be further from the truth. If the Daily editorial board had attended any of the various events throughout the week of homecoming, they would have seen hundreds of students and alumni alike voicing their spirit in the Minnesota rouser at both the Friday pep rally and pep fest, or over a hundred students donating blood at Monday’s blood drive, or students collaborating with area neighborhoods in fundraising efforts to improve lighting on 15th Avenue, or more than 500 students cheering wildly for the Johnny Holm Band. School spirit was illustrated this homecoming in as many diverse ways as the students who illustrated it.

If the Daily editorial board truly wants to improve opportunities for student involvement on campus, I suggest offering solutions rather than criticism. Applying for next year’s committee might be a proactive place to start.

Brian Sondag is a University student and homecoming coordinator. Please send comments to [email protected]