Homecoming week brings on a mixed array of emotions for me every year.
On one hand, it is wonderful to see a full and vibrant campus engaged in a vast array of activities. I love being able to catch up with my graduated friends who have returned to campus. Hearing the stories of distinguished and accomplished alumni is always inspiring and motivating for me as a current student.
On the other hand, the stress of Homecoming chips away at me daily. Hours are spent pomping and building floats rather than resting or catching up on homework. A multitude of “mandatory” events—where a percentage of club member participation determines whether or not your club receives Homecoming points or not—cloud up my calendar and cause me to adjust plans. For a couple of weeks annually, Homecoming feels like a demanding part-time job. For all the Homecoming executives and club directors out there, I know it feels like a full-time job with extra unpaid overtime.
All of this, sprinkled with the annual controversy of point totals and float judges and whether or not the clubs on campus are unified, is enough to make a sane person wonder if it is all worth it. Thousands of hours of voluntary student labor all to put on a pep rally, 30-minute parade around the forum and a Homecoming court ceremony.
I may sound a tad cynical up to this point, but bear with me. Homecoming is absolutely worth it, and here is why.
The brotherhood and sisterhood which makes our social service clubs great arises out of adversity and sacrifice. If it was all sunshine and rainbows all the time, our bonds would be flimsy. Homecoming is a manifestation of our clubs’ abilities to sacrifice and work together to create something spectacular.
Homecoming is not convenient. It takes up an abundance of our most precious asset: time. It requires us to work together, plan well in advance and settle disagreements. You have to show up and get things done even when you would rather be doing something else.
A healthy club comes out of Homecoming exhausted and worn down but stronger as a unit. The hard work you did as a small group of college students helped create something beautiful. The Homecoming parade may ultimately not be that significant, but the fortified bonds and friendships created as a result are.
This brings me to my next point—be slow to get angry and complain as Homecoming weekend progresses. Everyone, including the executives, acknowledges Homecoming is not perfect and events often do not go exactly to plan. The students who help plan Homecoming are as human as we are and want nothing more than for Homecoming to be as great as it can be. Show them some kindness and mercy this week.
Embrace the “mandatory” events where club attendance is factored into final Homecoming point tallies. The debate on whether they are good or bad for Homecoming warrants an entirely different article. However, the reality of this year is your club will ask you to come to these events unless you absolutely cannot, and you should embrace this time together. If you could care less about the event, go with the intention of growing closer and catching up with your fellow club members.
Homecoming is what you make it. If you allow pessimism, cynicism and excessive judgment to creep in, you will assuredly not have a good time this weekend. But if you make an active effort to brush off the minor inconveniences and enjoy quality time with your fellow club members and the university community as a whole, you will walk away tired yet fulfilled.
We all have busy lives outside of Homecoming, and I am sure most of us are ready to have some more downtime. But I urge you to make a conscious choice to dedicate these next few days to your fellow club members and the university community rather than yourself. It will help make the next couple of days more pleasant for everyone.