Our version of ‘reality’ differs

Koehler’s opinion was based solely on stereotypes, assum-ptions and misrepresentations.

As co-coordinators of this year’s Homecoming Committee, we would like to respond to Mat Koehler’s opinion piece titled, “The Reality of Homecoming.”

The reality is this: Koehler’s opinion was based solely on stereotypes, assumptions and misrepresentations. Regrettably, Koehler chose to forgo research or interviews and rather focus on personal attacks. Koehler’s attacks on Homecoming 2004 and the greek community were inexcusable.

We decided to apply to be homecoming coordinators because we’ve been disappointed with the past level of involvement and school spirit on our campus. Rather than complain on the sidelines, we chose to roll up our sleeves and try to make homecoming better.

We held an open forum last fall to solicit student feedback on potential improvements and took them into consideration when planning this year’s festivities. Some changes include the addition of two homecoming concerts, an outdoor screening of “Starsky & Hutch,” a karaoke competition, and the relocation of the pepfest back to the Minneapolis campus.

One fact Koehler got right was that homecoming’s 2004 theme was “It’s Reality.” The Homecoming Committee acknowledged reality television has magnetized thousands of college students by taking a new twist on conventional television. We wanted a theme that reflected our commitment to revitalizing homecoming’s long-standing traditions while offering a very engaging and versatile theme that resonates with the student community.

Koehler’s assertion that reality television was a passing fancy is inaccurate. In fact, reality television’s growing impact is even the topic of academic study at the University of Minnesota, Indiana University, Syracuse University, University of Colorado and more.

Koehler’s analysis of the homecoming events schedule was myopic at best. Hundreds of students enjoyed a free lunch at the Oct. 18 kickoff party on Northrop Mall. The blood drive Oct. 19 resulted in 113 units of blood donated to the American Red Cross. Additional homecoming activities Koehler chose to omit included free films, afternoon concerts, a St. Paul campus community service project, Gophers Sports events, flag football and volleyball competitions, Gophers After Dark events and much more.

Additionally, the analysis of the royalty competition was misinformed. Homecoming royalty is a long-standing tradition of naming two student ambassadors of the University of Minnesota. Potential royalty candidates represent many parts of the student population, including the residence halls and student organizations, which yes, include greek organizations. Royalty judging is based on their involvement in a student group, academic success and leadership experience.

Koehler also chose to reiterate the worst, most cliched stereotypes about the greek community, while conveniently ignoring the greek community’s involvement on campus. Last year alone, the University of Minnesota’s greek organizations’ commitment to philanthropy included donations of more than $52,000 and 6,400 hours to local non-profit organizations. Also, the greek community recently proactively created a Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol chapter, to provide ongoing education and resources for its members.

If Koehler wants to act on his frustrations, we welcome his application for next year’s committee.

Jess Mann and Abby Johnston are undergraduate students. Please send comments to [email protected].