Homecoming Committee works to boost student, alumnus involvement

Ethan Summers

Even with the emphasis that is put on Homecoming week, some students are curious about how much students truly care about Homecoming itself. However, for some University alumni, Homecoming has a different importance.

 “As a student, Homecoming is just one giant, week-long party,” said Jonathan Chapin, a junior majoring in political science and anthropology. “I still take care of my studies, but there is just so much going on, it’s quite a trip.

“But Homecoming is so much more than that; it’s the shared love that all students hold for the Capstone and the city of Tuscaloosa itself,” he said. “I can only imagine what it will mean to me as an alumnus. The very fact that so many alumni come back for Homecoming is a testament to the University and how much it has impacted their lives.”

Erica Floyd, head of the Student Government Association’s Homecoming Planning Committee, said Homecoming is the best time of year for many alumni.

“It’s the one week every year where they [alumni] can come back to Tuscaloosa and relive the college days,” she said.

Student organizations play a large part in making Homecoming week a success, she added.

“It’s a really competitive week,” Floyd said. “We actually have 45 student organizations competing this year.”

One of the committee’s biggest tasks is spreading awareness about events, Floyd said.

“We’ve had fliers for literally every event and our website has been improved, so I think it’s been easier getting the word out than it has in the past,” she said.

In direct contrast, some students said Homecoming isn’t very significant in their lives.

Kelly Cannon, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said she doesn’t feel Homecoming has anything to do with her busy life.

“It doesn’t really apply to me,” Cannon said. “I have more important things to worry about.”

Cannon said she doesn’t care as much about Homecoming as alumni might, because spending time with friends at the game isn’t limited to one special week per year.

“You can do that—go to a game—without it being a Homecoming game,” she said.

Director of Student Engagement Chad Clark said student apathy about Homecoming isn’t something he’s encountered much during his work.

“I get to work with the student committee and all of the participants, so the most common attitude I come across is one in which the students look forward to this week and all of the events as soon as they return to campus for the fall,” he said.

Clark said he does recognize that while students generally care about Homecoming, they can’t be involved in everything, so his office is focused on providing many options for students.

“We have implemented some new events to the week [including a] block party and talent show and new positions [including] campus outreach on the Homecoming Committee to try and increase the level of involvement throughout the week,” Clark said. “We’ve seen good increases in participation levels.”

The level of student work involved demonstrates how much students and alumni care about Homecoming, he said.

“We begin selections for the committee about 11 months before the week itself, so the process is strenuous and time consuming,” Clark said. “Each year, we have a number of directors who return to the committee to serve again, which is a great testimony to their level of commitment.”

He said the volunteer nature of working for the committee is another example of the members’ commitment.

“They don’t see a monetary benefit to their service,” Clark said. “They do it as a gesture to the University and the community and view it as a way to get involved and give back.”