Expand Homecoming, include more students
October 20, 2006
Walking through the campus and community, one would expect to see decorations, daily activities and royalty campaigning -- all immersed in a sea of red and white. Yet student life at UW-River Falls seems to have seen virtually no changes since last week.
One thing is clear though -- this year’s Homecoming Committee has worked harder than those in the past. For the first time in more than two decades, the parade will travel through downtown River Falls. The theme, Showdown at the RF Corral, is also a welcomed change from last year’s irrelevant paradise motif.
Yet it still feels as if excitement for this annual celebration is seriously lacking.
Maybe the nonexistent Homecoming spirit has something to do with the exclusion of a large part of the student population. If you’re not an alumnus or active member of a student organization, Homecoming doesn’t really seem to offer you much.
Sure, you could buy a shirt for $5 -- it would have gotten you a free ride on the mechanical bull. But to compete in the other events -- parade, lip sync, war paint, Org-On-Trail derby, food drive, change wars, pop tabs -- you had to enter as a recognized student organization or residence hall.
Even royalty candidates are required to be sponsored by a student org. Who said the race for Homecoming queen had to stop being a popularity contest after high school anyway?
If you’re not involved with a group on campus, your options for participating in the week’s festivities were limited to logging online to vote for royalty, or running around campus to search for the hidden medallion.
Homecoming is supposed to be geared toward getting alumni back on campus, not to mention squeezing their pockets a bit in the process. But will graduates really want to come back to River Falls a few Octobers down the line if their Homecoming experiences weren’t fulfilling while they were students?
Next year, the Homecoming Committee could benefit from creating more opportunities for individuals and groups of friends. Scheduling activities during the day -- when most students are on campus -- would likely turn out a higher number of participants as well, and maybe even generate more school pride in the process.
But most importantly, the administration should consider getting involved in the Homecoming planning process by sponsoring programs and events, and creating stronger ties with the city.
After all, bigger events mean more people, and a greater number of visiting alumni will surely lead to a beefed up bank account.