Homecoming events for students this year won’t include a concert or homecoming court, but do include a comedy show and a community photography project, with an art festival planned for Friday.
SpiderBoard, which organizes and programs campus-wide student activities, also plans homecoming events. It traditionally hosted the homecoming concert, but its members decided not to host a concert this year to try something different, SpiderBoard Vice President and sophomore Colin Sparkevicius said.
“We weren’t really given any restrictions in what we can and can’t do,” Sparkevicius said. “How we approached it, we weren’t trying to make homecoming based around a concert because All-American Rejects, in all honesty, wasn’t the greatest hit-off.”
The Collegian reported last year that the homecoming concert, featuring the All-American Rejects, faced logistical difficulties that frustrated some students.
A factor in the decision not to host a homecoming concert this year was also that there aren’t many campus events in the spring, so SpiderBoard members are hoping to plan a concert for then, Sparkevicius said.
SpiderBoard has also historically arranged the process of nominating students for homecoming court and voting for a homecoming king and queen, Alison Keller, director of the Center for Student Involvement, said.
Keller posed the question of whether to have homecoming court to SpiderBoard this year, after years of other students asking the same question, or questions about changing it, she said.
Greek life was a factor in the decision, Sparkevicius said.
“When we were discussing [homecoming court], we kind of saw the flaw with it, that it wasn’t inclusive to everyone on campus because it was mainly Greek life being nominated and Greek life voting, basically,” he said.
Part of the discussion around homecoming court included whether it was inclusive to non-binary and gender non-conforming students, Keller said. Some universities across the country are changing their homecoming-court traditions, ditching the traditional king and queen roles, according to the Chicago Tribune.
There is also a national trend, which UR is a little bit ahead of, to eliminate homecoming court, Keller said.
Keller said the decision was a group effort, but that ultimately, SpiderBoard members had to decide whether they were going to coordinate the homecoming court process.
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SpiderBoard president and sophomore Erin Watton wrote in an email that “SpiderBoard didn't choose to not have a Homecoming Court. [SpiderBoard] chose to explore the possibility of creating new campus traditions.”
Keller said that “there has been no indication that there is any reason for us to go back” to having a homecoming court in the future.
“I haven’t had one question about it,” she said.
“It really was not a big decision,” Keller said, “because there was so many more fun, spirited traditions that could be started instead that were inclusive of everybody on campus.”
SpiderBoard members began thinking about homecoming events this spring, Sparkevicius said. They wanted to think of something they could do instead of a concert and make it just as interesting and just as exciting, he said. They came up with three events.
SpiderBoard members and Keller attended the National Association for Campus Activities convention in February, where they met photographer John Noltner.
Noltner is the creator of A Peace of My Mind, a multimedia arts project that aims to "rediscover humanity in an increasingly polarized world,” according to its website. Noltner questions subjects, asks them to tell their stories and photographs them.
SpiderBoard hired Noltner during the convention to come to Richmond during homecoming week to do a similar project, Sparkevicius said.
This Tuesday in the Hanging Lounge of the Tyler Haynes Commons, Noltner asked students “What is your responsibility in creating community?” as he captured their responses and took a portrait of each of them.
Noltner took 166 photos, which made this the most successful project that has ever been on a college campus, Watton said.
On Wednesday, the portraits and responses were revealed. Selected photos will also be unveiled and hung in The Current on Friday, Keller said.
SpiderBoard members also met comedian Barry Brewer during the convention in February and hired him over the summer.
Brewer performed in The Current on Tuesday night as part of SpiderBoard’s homecoming activities.
SpiderBoard’s third and final event for homecoming is the Spider Street Festival on Friday, which its members planned after being approached by members of Westhampton College Government Association and Richmond College Student Government Association, Sparkevicius said.
“We want to build traditions and build inclusivity on campus and involve the entirety of the student body, and I think the street festival could do that,” Sparkevicius said.
The festival is an art fair that will feature local artists and vendors selling their products and designs, as well as other organizations offering information and crafts, WCGA president and senior Monica Stack said.
“We thought on campus where all the buildings look similar, there’s a lot of room for student art to make the campus more interesting and also give students a way to interact with the campus in a physical way and leave their physical mark on campus,” Stack said.
The festival will be hosted on the sidewalk between Westhampton Lake and the Commons, as well as inside The Current, Stack said.
“The street festival is probably like the biggest thing we’re looking for, for a tradition,” Sparkevicius said, “just because we’re trying to build traditions on campus. And I feel like if the street festival goes well, it definitely has room to expand.”
SpiderBoard also partnered with the art club and athletics to plan homecoming events, Watton stated in an email.
“These collaborations helped SpiderBoard to expand our reach and ensure that everyone on campus feels as though they are a part of homecoming,” she stated.
Homecoming began at UR in 1929 and became an annual tradition in 1930, according to The Collegian.
Contact editor-in-chief Ashlee Korlach at email@example.com.
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