A house without a home(coming)

Who is homecoming really for?

Hanna Bubser, Senior Columnist

Remember in high school when alumni would come back for the homecoming football game? Yeah, me neither. Homecoming in high school was a completely different world. In my town, it was mostly celebrated by current students- without a question.

At Hamline, homecoming plays out a bit differently. Homecoming Week ties in with Alumni Weekend, which takes place at the end of Homecoming Week. It is the weekend in which alums are invited back to campus to celebrate their alumni status (and hopefully whip out their checkbook). While everyone on campus is invited to them, events like the Fall Fest and Big Bash are usually geared towards alums.

During the weekdays of homecoming, students engage in events like the Lip Sync Battle and the homecoming dance. You usually won’t find any alums at these, though I suppose it isn’t unheard of. What is evident in homecoming events across the board is the divide of said events.

Homecoming is huge at Hamline. Money is pumped into it year after year for every little thing that it encompasses. The question is: who is it all really for? Traditionally, homecoming is thought of as a chance for alumni to return to their old stomping grounds.

Hamline is a D3 school. We are also small (around 2,100 undergraduate students) and a private institution. Outside of homecoming, our campus-wide events seem to have a rather uneven turnout. Sometimes, an event will get hundreds of attendees, while others may get a handful. It comes with the territory. But during homecoming, Hamline pulls out all of the stops. Pretty much every event held during that week is bustling with students, alumni, whomever. The campus is busy.

Heavy foot traffic around our school grounds is not a bad thing. In fact, homecoming does a great job of getting the community to talk about Hamline. Everyone who spends time on campus during Homecoming Week has some sort of connection to the university. It gives us all a common ground. Even I won’t pretend like I don’t participate in homecoming because it is fun. But is it necessary?

One undergraduate student who I spoke with said that they don’t usually participate in homecoming festivities because they are unsure of homecoming’s role on our campus aside from the fact that it brings back alumni. Essentially, they feel as though homecoming isn’t engaging enough for current students, and they would rather see the programming money put elsewhere.

As a student myself, I understand their perspective. I’m pretty on the fence about homecoming. I mentioned before that it is fun, but that fun isn’t necessarily based on the fact that it is a homecoming. What I mean by that is I find some of the individual events very entertaining (like the Lip Synch Battle or Big Bash), but I don’t feel especially drawn to go to those events because they are taking place during Homecoming Week.

I get to pick and choose what I participate in, which, it could be argued, is part of the beauty of homecoming. For example, even though I go to a couple of events, I never go to the football game. This is not because of our team by any means, butt because I personally do not get enjoyment from watching the sport. Because of these reasons, I believe that I lean more towards the idea that an entire week dedicated to homecoming may not be worth it as a student.

I also recognize that after this year, I will be a Hamline alum. So even though I feel a certain way about homecoming as a current student, will I as a graduate? Obviously for me personally, this remains to be seen. But you can bet that this year I’ll be seeking out alumni to see how they feel about the whole celebration. Are they going to Alumni Weekend to relive glory days? Maybe make a donation to the school? Valid reasons, certainly, but honestly can’t that be done during the rest of the school year? Maybe I just don’t understand the magic of homecoming… yet.