The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | Reevaluating the meaning of Homecoming

Opinion+%7C+Reevaluating+the+meaning+of+Homecoming
Soro Ung

The University’s Homecoming is approaching, and we all know what that entails — constant reminders of how wonderful this place is. 

This complaint may be specific to this campus, an urbanized pimple on the endless prairie visage of the Midwest. However, despite the University tending to remind us that it is quite possibly the originator of the first legitimate collegiate Homecoming as the U.S. knows it today, it forgets that such a fact is not why its students celebrate the occasion.

Put aside the fact that this claim may not even be true, according to the research of an Illinois graduate student in 2005. 

Even without the assumption that this campus was the pioneer of collegiate alumni Homecoming celebrations, there is still an evident disconnect between the school’s efforts to connect with students on the level of the cultural zeitgeist, and how it is received.

Students don’t go out day drinking on Homecoming Week in a frenzy of school spirit. They do it because they want to.

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The real question here is whether the University needs to connect with students at all. It’s a major institution, sapping money from its attendees with relentless fervor. It’s like being best friends with your boss at work — sure, it makes life a bit more bearable, but at the end of the day they can still fire you on the spot.

Especially in the case of federally funded state colleges like our own, there is no reason for a student to feel any sense of obligation or duty towards it. It’s true: Homecoming is a fantastic chance for alumni to gather and celebrate the many incredible opportunities to be found here.

However, Homecoming is also one of the most lucrative events of the school year for local businesses and service providers, from hotels and retailers to spas and restaurants. More likely, the University would have its eyes on this statistic rather than a Homecoming game player’s rushing yards.

There is a lot of good to be seen from the events of Homecoming Week — but the University chooses to focus on the simple aspect of “Orange and Blue spirit” rather than the specific distinguished alumni or the positive effects the festivities have on the community. 

True, we may have indeed pioneered the notion of college homecomings as they are known today, disregarding Mizzou’s identical claims. But that may not be sufficient reason enough for the student body to feel an overwhelming sense of pride towards their school.

There is nothing wrong with the University trying to connect with students, whether it’s Chancellor Robert Jones sauntering around the Main Quad on Instagram or hosting family-oriented events like the upcoming Dads Weekend. 

The University doesn’t have to stop there, however. Sure, seeing the chancellor taking selfies in the first week of school with a very specifically diverse array of students is fantastically welcoming for newcomers, whether they be freshmen or transfers. 

But, for those without innocent starry eyes regarding University life, these efforts can feel fruitless and disingenuous.

This leads to the question of if these efforts have any point at all. Most students aren’t shelling out swaths of money because they think their administrators are up-to-date with all those new technological do-dads and gizmos. People don’t work desk jobs for the thrill of Pizza Friday — they just want the money for a place to sleep at night.

The University tends to forget that Homecoming is a time to honor those who have passed through these hallowed halls and not only survived but went on to do their future student generations proud, whether or not they decided to generously build a library on a quad.

But, at the end of the day, Homecoming will come and go without stirring much in students’ hearts other than a vague burning from post-festivity Fat Sandwich runs and the pulmonary tension brought on by the stress of midterms.

 

Aaron is a sophomore in Media.

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About the Contributor
Aaron Anastos, Assistant Opinions Editor
Hello there, my name is Aaron and I’m a sophomore majoring in journalism. I joined The DI as an opinions columnist in fall 2022 and was honored to begin my stint as an assistant opinions editor in spring 2023. I love the opinions section especially because it gathers together so many interesting people with unique perspectives on the world. Outside of the DI offices, you can find me swimming laps at the ARC or happily writing at the Funk Library. You can reach me at my email below!
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