Each year, as tinges of red and orange creep into the campus foliage and the slightest chill enters the breeze across Westhampton Lake, alumni return to University of Richmond for the annual homecoming celebration – a week filled with fun and nostalgia for many.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the university’s relocation to its current site “mid the pines and rolling hills,” according to the homecoming event’s registration page, making last weekend’s festivities particularly significant.
Campus organizations such as the Office of Alumni and Career Services, the Office of Student Involvement and SpiderBoard offered an array of events for current students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff to attend. From Wednesday’s Tailgate Dinner in the Heilman Dining Center to Saturday’s 37-0 trouncing of University of Rhode Island by Spider football, members of the campus community had ample opportunities to celebrate the old and new.
“It’s great being an upperclassman at homecoming,” Conor Lemmon, Richmond College ’16, said. “You get all of your friends together at one time – those who’ve graduated, and the new freshmen – and it gives you an opportunity to do some self-reflection and decide how you want to finish out your career at UR.”
One addition that set this year apart from past celebrations was the inaugural homecoming concert, hosted by SpiderBoard, the Center for Student Involvement and the Richmond and Westhampton colleges student governments. The concert featured rapper Sammy Adams, as well as DJ Matt Purdy, RC ‘14, in a sold-out performance on the Westhampton Green.
“With the concert, it was really exciting to start a new tradition, which is something I feel like we’re all really proud of,” said SpiderBoard president Chloe Zung, Westhampton College ’15. “Especially because just around a year ago we were launching SpiderBoard, and we managed to actually have a homecoming concert only a year later – that’s pretty incredible.”
Despite a few grumblings that Adams wasn’t the most popular choice, the event drew approximately 1,000 attendees, with around 200 students on the waitlist, according to the Center for Student Involvement. “The audience seemed to really enjoy it,” Zung said.
Some of the most prized events of last weekend have been around far longer than the concert, such as the crowing of the university’s homecoming king and queen, a process also sponsored by SpiderBoard. Seniors Rhia Bell and Pat McBride greeted fans in Robins Stadium as they formally accepted their crowns, after parading around the student and alumni tailgates in decked-out golf carts before the game.
SpiderBoard invited every student organization to nominate a senior for homecoming court, who in turn submitted an essay about what “Spider spirit” meant to them. The candidates served food at Wednesday’s tailgate dinner and competed in a trivia gameshow on Thursday. Voting took place on OrgSync throughout the week. “We tried to get them out to homecoming events throughout the week so that people can get to know them and put a face to their name,” Zung said.
The Office of Alumni and Career Services also offered a schedule of programming for alumni attendees that included sporting events, tailgates and other ways to connect with their alma mater. “After returning to campus for homecoming, I realized how strong the Spider family is,” Patrick Murphy, RC ’14, said. “I can’t wait for the next reunion.”
While many students see the weekend as an opportunity to connect with their alumni friends who have spread across the globe, the newest Spiders may place a different significance on the festivities. “As a freshman, I’m not sure I can fully appreciate the importance of [homecoming],” Duncan Trawick, RC '18, said. “All I can do is embrace the celebration and see how much this school means to people.”
After a weekend of hard work, Zung said she was excited to leave homecoming in capable hands. “I’ve played a pretty big role in the past three years with leading it, so I’m proud to leave it with someone else and see what they do differently next year and what awesome changes they make," she said. "I’m excited to come back as an alum and enjoy homecoming again.”
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