Homecoming’s value lost on our generation

In 10 or 20 years, what will I reflect upon when I come back to the University for Homecoming?

In 10 or 20 years, what will I reflect upon when I come back to the University for Homecoming?

Will it be the Rose Bowl I watched on TV when I was a senior in high school?

Will it be getting bumped or snubbed from the first round of the NCAA tournament?

Or will it be an admissions controversy that tainted our school’s good name?

I am not thrilled for the 100th anniversary of Homecoming, but it’s not because I’m not a proud Illini; it’s because I feel like I’m part of a lost generation here.

Every current undergraduate at this University has lived through one of the school’s most transitional periods. Ever. And no parade, no football game, no spirit awards will ever be able to mask that fact. If there’s one positive to find in Homecoming, it’s that it might serve as a cute diversion from the walls that seem to be collapsing all around us.

One can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to be, say, a 2008 graduate. He or she saw the Fighting Illini basketball team play in the NCAA Championship as a freshman and saw Juice Williams and company fight for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena as a senior. In 2008, half of the administrators didn’t have “interim” in their titles. That 2008 graduate’s prospects of finding a job weren’t quite as bleak as ours are today.

That 2008 graduate will come back to the University in 20 years and reminisce about how much the University has changed since he or she was here.

A 2011 graduate will come back to the University in 20 years and talk about how he or she witnesed the change, and will- depending on the here and now- discuss how that change was for the better or for the worse.

Of course, the University is not suddenly turning into some dystopia; it’s changing, and the great thing about change is that we, as students, can influence this change. I think that iHelp is a great addition to the Homecoming celebration for this reason. We truly do want to give back to a University community that, let’s face it, has put up with a lot of our more forgettable Friday night antics.

It’s those Friday night antics, dorm room squabbles, and Frisbees on the Quad that link us as students and as a campus, not a Homecoming celebration.

On the University’s Homecoming website, it says that over the last 100 years, the event has been about “finding new ways to celebrate and new causes for pride in the institution, its students and its alumni.”

And while it’s easy to find causes to celebrate students and alumni, the University as an institution also needs to earn the celebration from current students, the lost generation at the University of Illinois.

Evan is a junior in LAS.