In case you didn’t know — and there’s a reasonable chance that you didn’t — Homecoming weekend is on the horizon. Come Friday, you’ll see alumni, old and new, gathering all across our little slice of heaven here. It’s sure to be a weekend filled with new, memorable moments and deja vu’s alike for those who already hold degrees bearing the University’s seal. But minus a few decent frat parties, a possible tailgate and seeing a couple of recently graduated friends, this weekend may not mean much more than a football game to the average Penn student.
Personally, I find that pretty disheartening.
I understand the aims of a traditional Penn Homecoming: Give the alumni a chance to reminisce on times past, see what great things have happened around campus since they donned their caps and gowns and maybe write a few checks to the University.
Yet nestled between mid-term season and finals is this gem of an opportunity that we current students largely squander. Homecoming should be something that’s celebrated in a bigger and better way by the student body. It’s larger than a football game — it’s an occasion to relish everything that the Penn community embodies, and we need to take greater ownership of this privilege.
A theme would invigorate Homecoming weekend for students and unite many potential events. In the spirit of open disclosure, I must acknowledge that there already is a theme for this weekend — “Arts and Cultures”— but you probably wouldn’t know it unless you visited Penn’s alumni web page. There are some great events planned that fit the bill: an alumni film festival, pottery workshops and tours of University holdings and collections. There’s even a youth talent show for those future legacy members of the Class of 2019 and beyond (because every alumnus deserves the opportunity to showcase his talented progeny as a way to show up that still-single ex who dumped him after Senior Week).
Generating an exciting, inclusive theme that engages the student body in that same vein wouldn’t be a difficult task, given our healthy fixation with themed events (and who doesn’t love a good T-shirt?). There could be a competition in the spring that gives freshmen, sophomores and juniors the opportunity to submit possible themes for homecoming in the upcoming fall — helping to maintain a general level of excitement and build anticipation for the event heading into the next school year.
And once a theme is set, it wouldn’t take a large committee or a substantial budget to build homecoming weekend into a better experience for students. Super Smash Brothers was a hit at Fall Fest; if we can’t afford another concert just a few weeks after the first, Social Planning and Events Committee could schedule the concert to coincide with Homecoming. The Student Activities Council could help to organize a series of theme-based performances from an array of student groups. Collaboration between Class Boards could give rise to some friendly, interclass competitions. And while we’re at it, we could even ask Alpha Chi Omega to move the Big Man On Campus competition to homecoming weekend. The possibilities are endless.
Our student leaders on the Undergraduate Assembly, SPEC, SAC, the Class Boards and Greek Councils should make a concerted effort to develop a true homecoming experience for students. Current students may not be clamoring for such an experience, but unless we’ve visited a school during an active Homecoming weekend, it’s possible we just don’t know what we’re missing.
We aren’t Penn State, and a day parade down Spruce may be asking a bit much. But it’s time that we as students started treating homecoming as the grand spectacle that it should be. This plea may be too little and too late for my senior classmates and I. But I hope that when we return for homecoming as alumni to bask in all its glory, students are painting the campus red (and blue).
Jonathan Wright is a College senior from Memphis, Tenn. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.orgComments powered by Disqus
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