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Students and Alumni celebrate Homecoming at Quakerfest Credit: Christina Prudencio

This Homecoming weekend, fine arts and film will accompany football and fraternity parties.

In past years, the Sweeten Alumni House has focused on expanding homecoming attractions beyond traditional events to encourage alumni to return to campus. This year especially, homecoming will feature a variety of events related to arts and culture.

“We realized six years ago that the football game wasn’t a huge draw for all alumni,” Director of Alumni Relations Elise Betz said. “As a result, we planned our homecoming — it’s homecoming featuring arts and culture.”

She said that, in addition to the football game, there are about 98 other arts and culture-related programs planned for the weekend, including a tour of Van Pelt’s rare book library and a hands-on demonstration at the Penn Museum, as well as a lecture about the Madeline books.

Saturday night, students and alumni can go to Meyerson Hall to watch the film “Southern Rites,” produced by Penn alumnus John Legend. Unfortunately, Legend won’t be there, but director Gillian Laub will be, Betz said. In addition, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and acclaimed writer Buzz Bissinger, whose books include “Friday Night Lights” and “A Prayer for the City,” will speak at the Kelly Writers House on Saturday.

Alumni may be swarming campus on Saturday, but this year’s Homecoming weekend includes events for students as well.

“We’ve been trying over the past five years or so to incorporate students more into homecoming,” Associate Director of Penn Traditions and Alumni Programming Nicole Svonavec said.

One of the major events planned for students is QuakerFest, which will take place before Saturday’s football game on College Green and will feature music, food, games and prizes. After the game, they can return to College Green for Penn’s fourth annual “Blutt Band Slam.” Student and alumni musicians will compete for a $1,000 prize, Betz said.

Both Betz and Svonavec think it’s important for current students to interact with alumni.

“I would encourage students to strike up a conversation with an alumnus,” Betz said. “They have shared experience, and alumni love to talk to students.” 

“It’s an opportunity to increase your Penn network by engaging with the alumni.”

Their hope is that the increased programming will allow both students and alumni to engage with Penn’s offerings.

“Homecoming, by its very definition, is coming home to Penn,” Betz said, “so it’s a chance to connect and to engage deeper with the campus, the faculty and the students.”

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