When I think of homecoming, the first thing I think of is high school homecoming. I think of the week of spirited and festive dress up days, the big bonfire and the big homecoming football game and dance. But I was never really aware of what homecoming was all about until I got to the University of Arizona.
Homecoming is defined as the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.
In high school, this was not so obvious to me.
Homecoming in high school was a week-long event. There are themes for each grade, there are dress up days, there are fun events during the school day. Maybe it was just my high school, where it was so regular that they had alumni come back to visit at any time, but homecoming did not necessarily feel as if it was for our alumni.
From what I remember, there were no special events held during homecoming week that were directed at the alumni.
It felt more directed at and for the students at the school, especially with the homecoming court. Going to a smaller high school, the nominees were students we were actually familiar with and they would be announced at the football game. Homecoming seemed as if it was to celebrate the students.
We all were able to feel involved.
Since being at the UA, I’ve never really been interested in or involved with homecoming. It simply does not feel as if it is for the current students. There is the football game, but that is all I have really associated homecoming with at this school.
I know that we also have homecoming court, but this school is so big that we don’t really know these people or are even familiar with them at all.
And maybe I’m not paying attention enough, but homecoming is really not advertised for current students. I haven’t really seen anything about it anywhere — no posters, no social media, no emails. There are events, as I’m looking at them now, but most of them have the word alumni in the title. It doesn’t necessarily feel inclusive for the current students at the UA.
Maybe it’s because the university is significantly larger than my high school, but homecoming here feels directly targeted more at the alumni. They are celebrating the alumni.
And I think that all has to do with also receiving money from alumni.
According to UA’s website, the UA Foundation has raised more than $2 billion in private funding to advance the mission of the university since 1958 by working with alumni, community members and friends.
But what about the current students? Where’s their fun week of being celebrated? If the UA wants the students to give them money after they graduate, wouldn’t they want them to feel appreciated as they are current students? Why wait until after?
The UA wants to recognize the alumni, I understand that. And, yes, they do deserve to be recognized, they have done what we are all trying to achieve — graduating. They have been in our shoes and they are out in the real world doing what the UA prepared them for. And we can only hope we can get there too.
If you’d like to be more involved than I am with homecoming, check out UA’s homecoming events here.
Mikayla went to high school at Justin-Siena in Napa, Calif.