College homecoming celebrations neglect current students, revolve exclusively around alumni’s desires

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Last week, the College of William and Mary had its annual Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. As a current freshman, I was excited to see what homecoming in college would be like. Many of my favorite high school memories were from homecoming: the spirit days, the class competitions, the game, the dance. During homecoming week, it felt like the entire school came together to be a part of something, and the excitement and energy was palpable in the air even as we went about our normal school days. Unfortunately, homecoming at the College did not meet the expectations I had coming in. 

While homecoming in high school revolves around its current students, homecoming here seems to only involve the alumni. Of course, college fosters more long-lasting connections and networks than in high school, so it isn’t surprising that its alumni play a relevant role in the community. Additionally, Homecoming and Reunion Weekend is one of the few opportunities where such a large quantity of people are able to visit and reconnect with old friends. 

However, I was disappointed at how little homecoming was talked about among current students, and how few opportunities there were for us to participate. The main events that were open to students were the parade and the football game. The parade with its showcase of some of the many diverse clubs on campus should have been better advertised, as many students were not even aware that it was taking place. The football game, though more well known, doesn’t appeal to everyone and for some of those who were interested, it was difficult to get tickets.

I would have liked to see more activities for current students and different types of activities to reflect our many interests. There were significantly more receptions and events available to the alumni and if there were other activities for students this year, they were not sufficiently made aware and accessible to students.  

Going into college, with its intimidatingly larger population than high school, I wasn’t sure how developing a community would be possible. But seeing all the alumni walking around campus, eating at restaurants in Colonial Williamsburg, and gathering on the Sunken Garden together showed me the strength of our community and gave me hope. It was so great to see how close the alumni still were to each other and how passionate they still were about the College, even after graduating. It made me feel more confident that after I graduate, I, too, will always have a place at the College. 

But right now, it’s hard to feel that sense of community. Yes, it has not been a full semester yet, but making homecoming more engaging for students could foster a stronger sense of community early and make the newest members of the school feel more welcome. Why not use homecoming as an opportunity to celebrate both the College’s alumni and its current students? I’d like to be able to consider myself as a part of the Tribe now, and not have to wait until after I graduate.

Email Anhthu Cung at atcung@email.wm.edu.