Written By: Naomi Stuart
Homecoming is upon us, and with it comes school spirit. Many of us look forward to our graduated friends coming back and the hustle and bustle of the many events happening all around campus. Homecoming is such a common tradition; it can be hard to keep track of what it’s all about. Looking at the roots and many traditions of Homecoming can help us understand what it provides for our community, and why.
Who is Homecoming for? In short, it is for our community. It is especially for keeping all of us who attend/attended the university connected, no matter whether you’re a current student, faculty, or alumni. The concept of “Homecoming” isn’t one that is solely a part of JMU, though ours is excellent, but a concept held as highly important in high schools and colleges across the country. How did we end up with this strong standing tradition and where did it come from?
The origins of Homecoming are highly contested, as many schools scramble to claim they held the first Homecoming ever. But one thing we can be sure of is that Homecoming was a tradition rooted in alumni returning for an important football game to support their university’s team. Slowly more traditions developed, including homecoming parades and homecoming courts. Competitions and festivities mostly come from a place of school spirit, but over the years they have blossomed into even more. The Homecoming court often comprises of students who have made a difference on campus, in the community, and in the world. The student body votes to honor those individuals. The spirit events can accompany encouragements to donate to an important cause.
JMU’s SGA (Student Government Association), as well as JMU’s 1911 Society, give support to make Homecoming events possible. While the football game gives an event for students and alumni to celebrate their school with friends, the Purple Out unifies everyone in the community. SGA and UPB offer free purple shirts to those who bring food and clothing donations. Making the most out of Homecoming and turning it into an event to be with friends and give back, is what can make Homecoming a truly great tradition.
Homecoming, with its open-ended sense of tradition, has left room to really take the events to another level when you have strong campus organizations and motivated students and alumni. Homecoming should be about spirit, giving the community a chance to come together, and, at a place like JMU, providing opportunities to thank one another and give back. While the football game is a great event, traditions like the Purple Out event are those that make JMU’s homecoming stand out. Strong organizations like SGA and UPB give us events that contribute to student’s lives and make Homecoming something even bigger.