Homecoming is returning to campus this weekend, even if the festivities look a bit different from years past.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, alumni and visitors will not be able to visit Oklahoma Christian University for the traditional parade, basketball games and other events which occurred during past years.
While the parade and the basketball games have been cancelled, students, faculty and staff will be celebrating homecoming with new twists on traditions.
Executive homecoming director Kennah Foster said this year’s theme, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” ties into the broader context of homecoming during a pandemic.
“Homecoming is completely different than it has ever been before because we can’t welcome anyone home to campus,” Foster said. “We’re choosing our own adventure. We have to choose to have a good attitude about it and be excited for it.”
While there will be no homecoming parade, social clubs will still present their floats on Friday, Nov. 6, across Lawson Commons. In accordance with the theme, the floats will all be modeled after different board games, from Monopoly to Operation to the Game of Life.
Foster said she took inspiration from life during the coronavirus lockdown to develop a homecoming theme that would be original and relevant.
“When I was beginning to work on homecoming, it was during the middle of quarantine,” Foster said. “You would see all of these videos of families hanging out and playing board games, almost going back in time, being together at home.”
Because the fall semester will end before the traditional Lighting of the Commons, the annual light display and celebration will occur for all students, faculty and staff on Friday in honor of Oklahoma Christian’s 70th birthday. The event will feature Lighting of the Commons traditions like mugs of hot chocolate and carriage rides, as well as homecoming traditions like faculty pie-in-the-face and gift card giveaways. In addition, indie pop band Husbands will perform.
Foster said a new OC Legend award will be given to a member of the faculty or staff as voted by the student body.
“It’s for any faculty or staff member who truly embodies what it means to be an Eagle,” Foster said. “They are really welcoming and encouraging and loving to students.”
On Saturday, Nov. 7, the campus is welcome to the annual pep rally which will feature traditions like dodgeball, tug-of-war, prize giveaways and the homecoming court coronation. The event will occur outdoors at the Tom Heath Softball Field. In addition, a live stream for the event will be available at Oklahoma Christian’s website.
Other events will be made available throughout the week for students to attend, including a scavenger hunt, drive-in movie and multicultural celebration.
In past years, attendance for social clubs to earn homecoming points at these events had strict requirements. However, Foster said these requirements have been relaxed in light of COVID-19 safety measures.
“This year, we don’t want to make it a big number,” Foster said. “We’re only requiring 30% of each club to be at three events [to receive points].”
In addition, the majority of events will be hosted outside and masks are required to promote safety measures.
“I hope everyone is as involved as they feel comfortable with,” Foster said. “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. We are doing the best that we can to make it safe for everyone.”
Even though homecoming will not be a homecoming for Oklahoma Christian alumni, Foster said she hopes they will stay engaged virtually and visit campus when it is open again.
“We miss our alumni,” Foster said. “We will be doing shoutouts to the alumni during the live stream that were made by our student body. We are thinking of them and wishing they were here, but we are doing our best by having the live stream.”