Greek Life celebrates connection and tradition this Homecoming
UA greek life member participates in UA's 101st Homecoming Parade Oct. 24, 2015. Greek Life celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015.
UA Greek Life kicks off its Homecoming festivities with a dedication of the Geraldo Rivera Greek Heritage Park and a Greek Block Party to commemorate celebration of UA Greek Life and its alumni on Thursday, Oct. 27.
UA Greek Life celebrated its 100th anniversary on campus last year — a significant milestone for the Greek community here at the UA. The celebration lasted all year long, but there was an emphasis on the occasion during Homecoming so alumni also had the chance to celebrate.
Carol Thompson, director of outreach for Student Affairs, said there is a long history between Greek Life and Homecoming, given the fact that Greek Life has been around almost as long as the university itself.
She said the Greek community has celebrated Homecoming by decorating the lawns outside of their houses, building or decorating floats and having tents on the UA Mall on game day for alumni to stop by and connect with their chapters. Fraternities and sororities often partner up and have registered events throughout the week. Additionally, many chapters hold open houses, brunches or tours.
“I think they care about those kind of traditions in the university,” Thompson said. “They’re welcoming the alumni back, the university is welcoming the alumni back — it’s just been an important value of the organizations.”
One of those alumni is Matt Noble, a class of 1986 graduate who was in the fraternity Kappa Sigma.
Noble is a unique alumnus because he helped raise the money to build their house after he graduated and visits dozens of times throughout the year.
He said Homecoming weekend is a particularly special time to return to both the UA and Kappa Sigma as an alumnus.
“[Alumni] still like coming back for Homecoming,” Noble said. “I like going back and seeing people from my chapter. I enjoy that part of it.”
Noble also said the chapters which are good at communicating and reaching out to alumni are the most successful in getting a good turnout for Homecoming weekend.
Part of this is because Greek alumni have had such an influence on campus, Noble said.
Many of the buildings on campus, including the Eller College of Management and the James E. Rogers College of Law, are named after Greek alumni.
“It’s because they had a great experience on campus, continued coming back, went off and became successful in their lives and were in a position where they were able to give back,” Noble said.
The strong tradition that exists between Homecoming and Greek Life is not exclusive, but there is a long, interwoven history.
Melinda Burke, president of the UA Alumni Association, said Homecoming events planned by the association are never specifically for Greek Life, even though there is sometimes that perception.
She said they are collaborative with Greek Life, just like with any organization, in promoting and supporting any event planned.
“The fact is, if you’ve got an active member in a Greek organization, a leader in a Greek organization generally has a strong affinity or connection to the university as well,” Burke said. “[That] is why such a high percentage of our alumni leaders also have a Greek affiliation."
She said they go hand-in-hand.
“It’s a great partnership," Burke said. "We love the fact that there’s so many active alumni representing Greek Life, but we also appreciate the fact that lots of alums [sic] come back and we want everybody to have a strong connection and be loyal and embrace the UA,” Burke said. “Our position is: Homecoming is for everybody.”
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