Throughout the school year at Western Kentucky University, there are not many weeks are more important than homecoming week. The history of football homecoming week is something that is not widely known. As a result, the homecoming committees focus their efforts on making the week as flashy and fun as possible, of honoring Western Kentucky University’s past, present and future.
The whole homecoming week seems to be centered on Greek life, and many consider this as the Greek’s excuse to party, neglect schoolwork, and be the center of attention. The outsiders do not consider what homecoming week would consist of without Greeks. Despite the stereotypes, this is one week that the Greeks take an get to practically take control on campus.
On the Odyssey Online, Victoria Messina wrote an article on “Surviving Homecoming Week 2013.” As an Alpha Omicron Pi at Florida University, she undergoes the same type of hectic homecoming week schedule as WKU. This is because both schools take so much pride in their football teams. In the article, Messina describes: “Homecoming Week is undoubtedly something all Greeks look forward to every year. This week is sure to provide a nonstop campus of excitement and school spirit.” The reason for the different events is not an opportunity for the Greek community to show off, but a chance to display the spirit and pride they have for their school.
Homecoming has events that are only given to Greeks such as fraternity sorority pairings. Each year, fraternities and sororities are randomly paired together for the week to collectively mix with each other, build a float, participate in the parade, make a banner, promote a homecoming queen, and participate in an events day. At the end of the week, a homecoming queen is announced, and a pairing wins overall homecoming week. Everyone celebrates after Big Reds Roar during the concert and during the game. This description was fast and vague wasn’t it?
There cannot be a homecoming week without planning.
Scheduling and Pairing
The first part of preparing for Homecoming is obviously the scheduling. A couple weeks before the week of homecoming, sororities and fraternities anxiously wait inside a meeting for each individual pairing to be announced. Depending on each sorority and fraternity chapter size, each sorority is paired with one fraternity and one black fraternity or sorority. For instance, for Homecoming 2012, Alpha Delta PI was paired with Alpha Tau Omega and the Q’s, but in 2013, Alpha Delta Pi was paired with Alpha Gamma Rho, Kappa Sigma, and Kappa Alpha Psi. Since AGR and KE are smaller fraternities, they were both paired with a larger sorority chapter, ADPI.
Next, each sorority nominates chairs to be in charge of each event. These chairs consist of overall chairs, float chairs, banner chairs, spirit chairs, and Big Red’s Roar Chairs. Each of these chairs make sure that their sorority makes the effort to have the winning banner, the winning float, the best spirit, all to win homecoming. These chairs must be creative, while organized, to plan the design of the float, the banner, and the cheers for the parade.
Each chair member must have organizational skills needed to make sure every task during homecoming week is performed on time and efficiently. For instance, perhaps the most important task is turning in the float on time on Friday at 3PM. The largest task all week is building the float, and if it is not turned in, the time and effort will have been wasted. All of the other chairs make sure that the entire week runs smoothly, and if there is a problem, individuals know who to notify.
Homecoming Queen Candidate:
Each homecoming pairing, as well as campus organizations, nominates a homecoming queen candidate to represent their organization. Each nominee is judged on GPA, campus involvement, and following the rules and guidelines for the campaign. Each nominee must have a 2.3 GPA or higher and abide by rules such as only hanging 50 posters and attending all scheduled events for homecoming.
The homecoming queen is voted on the Monday of homecoming week on TopNet. The campus is filled with flyers social media posts displaying why each candidate is suitable for the position of homecoming queen. TopNet is used because there is no possible way for the voting to be rigged. Each student is allotted one vote, for one candidate. On Friday, at Big Red’s Roar, the Homecoming Queen Candidates are showcased, and the speaker announces that the winner will be announced at the game on Saturday.
“Winning Homecoming is one of the biggest accomplishments that we strive to win as a sorority. Homecoming week displays dedication and cooperation not just with your own chapter, but with other Greek chapters as well. Homecoming week is a time to display your chapter’s abilities to work together, create art out of nothing, and bond with other Greeks.”
~Sarah Newton, Spirit Master Homecoming candidate 2013; 2013 Overall Homecoming Chair for Alpha Delta Pi
Every organization is required to create a creative banner that incorporates the theme for homecoming week. The theme for Homecoming Week 2013 was “Bright Lights Red City”. The banners are judged of four categories: theme, creativity, originality, and color. Therefore, many organizations incorporated Big Red, noticeable campus buildings, the image of a city, and the color red. The banners have to be completed by Monday of homecoming week and they are displayed inside the Downing Student Union.
The banner that won the competition for Homecoming 2013 representing Alpha Delta Pi, Kappa Sigma, Alpha Gamma Rho, and Kappa Alpha Psi.
“I will never catch up on sleep, nor do I ever want to look at a colored piece of tissue paper again.” ~Morgan Neuer, Alpha Delta Pi float chair
The float building competition is likely the most time consuming and important aspect of homecoming week. The pairings are allowed to start building their float on Sunday. Each pairing rents a float site to work on all week, and it is open close to 24-hours until Friday morning. Throughout the week, each chapter has members working on the float whether their job is pomping—rolling tissue paper into a small ball, constructing the float out of wood, or cutting paper. The float chairs design the float and draw on the large pieces of wood in order for the design to come alive.
The gluing process of the float. The objects are very large, so it requires many tissue balls, and many hands to glue them.
As the week continues, the sorority girls and fraternity men’s fingers turn different colors from the colored tissue paper, and their hands start to cramp and are sore. Boxes upon boxes start to fill up with pomped tissue paper, and the gluing process begins. People glue colors onto the wood in specified areas depending on color. The strategy is to get the tissue very close together, so the balls are hardly visible. The gluing process is time consuming.
Throughout the float building process, this is a chance for the fraternities and sororities to get to know and hang out with people that they otherwise would not. Each fraternity and sorority brings something different to the table throughout the week. For instance, the Alpha Gamma Rho men were very handy when it came to actually constructing the float. Also, they opened their house to the other fraternities as well as Alpha Delta Pi for nightly mixers. The Kappa Sigma men were always up for fun stories and good conversation while pomping. Their dedication to the float was inspirational. They stayed long hours, and made sure that every member got over the hours which they were assigned. Lastly, the Kappa Alpha Psi men provided entertainment in the long hours of the night by their occasional dancing, or stepping. They even taught other people some of their dance moves.
The finished product of the float is due on Friday at 3PM. The last few hours before 3PM are very hectic and nerve racking because no matter how much work gets put in at the beginning of the week, come finishing time, there are more things that have to be completed. The chapters are adding the final pieces to the float such as the skirts and the floor of the float. Adding the pieces to the float requires nailing and drilling. Also, the entire float has hairspray added to it to add shine. Lastly, the float has to be transported outside of diddle arena, very slowly as to not ruin any part of the float.
This is the finished product of the winning float.
The event that all of the organizations get to finally display their floats and the t-shirts they made for the week. The parade is the time that the sorority and fraternity pairings show their school spirit and their ability to collaborate successfully. Many of the pairings create cheers, paint their faces, and wave their red towels during the parade to show spirit. This year, Alpha Delta Pi created a cheer to incorporate their fraternity pairings. The cheer said
“ADPi, AGR, and both the Kappas too, yeah we got the best at WKU.”
The organizations try to chant and cheer during the entire walk to the downtown square in hopes to win the spirit competition, which counts towards the overall competition.
The Spirit Competition:
“Stand up and cheer
Stand up and cheer
For dear old Western
For today we raise
The red and white
Above the rest
Our boys are fighting
And we’re bound to win the fray
We’ve got the team
We’ve got the steam
For this is dear old Western’s day.”
The spirit competition is mainly during the homecoming parade and Big Red’s Roar. The separate sorority and fraternity pairings are announced during Big Red’s roar and this is a time for the parings to make as much noise as possible to show their spirit. Some pairings scream, and others create cheers. Alpha Delta Pi paring created this cheer:
“Bright lights red city, boy them ADPi’s are pretty. AGR’s do it big and so do the Kappa Sigs. Here come the Kappas now; watch them wave that big red towel!”
The winners of this spirit competition get to hold the red and white spirit stick until the next year.
Big Reds Roar:
As the parade ends, Big Red’s Roar begins. This essentially is a pep rally for the football game the next day in the downtown square. After the organizations arrive downtown, there is a huge crowd around a stage with a band that is playing fun music. There are girls on shoulder holding up signs and yelling, and Greek flags are held over the heads of their group. At the beginning of Big Reds Roar, the announcer presents the homecoming queen candidates and gets everyone excited for the game the next day. Seemingly more important to the Greeks, this is when the speaker announces the winners of each individual competition during the week.
Afterward, he announces the overall homecoming winners. While each pairing hears the individual competition winners, they anxiously try to calculate who the overall winner will be. No matter the pairing, the winner is always a surprise. This is because it is nearly impossible to believe that the long hours, the endless coffee, 3AM McDonalds runs, the tears, the freak-out moments, and the exhaustion finally paid off.
This is the 2013 Homecoming Week winning pairing: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Rho, Kappa Sigma, and Kappa Alpha Psi
The Homecoming Concert:
Every year a performer comes and plays in Diddle Area, usually a country artist. Homecoming 2013, Justin Moore and Corey Smith came and performed for the country music fans that still had the spirit of homecoming in their veins. The year before Dierks Bentley played and Luke Bryan the year before. The cost is typically around 25 dollars to get into the concert, which is much cheaper than most concerts. This past year, the concert was on Friday night, but in the past years it has been on the Thursday. The change could have been to allow more people to come to the concert since Thursday nights are typically devoted to solely working on the floats. The concert is divided into floor and arena seating, where the floor is all standing, and the arena can be either sitting or standing.
The Homecoming Game:
The game is typically an early afternoon game in order for ample time for Greek and alumni brunches and tailgating under tents. Once it comes time for the game, everyone packs up their tents and heads to the game. Out of any game, this one is the most spirited, and probably has the highest attendance. Alumni, students, parents, and general fans flood the football stadium wearing red shirts, red dresses, and red even pants to celebrate the football team taking on their own homecoming pairing. At half time, the homecoming candidates come onto the field so one of them can be crowned by the previous year’s winner. The honor of homecoming queen is highly looked upon, and the female student has that title until next homecoming.
Homecoming at WKU is not just an event; it is a week-long celebration. In the future years at Western, the tradition of homecoming will undoubtedly grow more successful, and will attract even more public attention. The celebration of homecoming week is not only to celebrate the football team, but to celebrate the university’s success, the alumni, the students, the staff, and the community.