VOICES: Does homecoming matter in 2020?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, October 1st, 2020 at 2:10 PM

I have really fond memories from high school homecoming. The week leading up to the big game was so exciting. We celebrated spirit week then, and it was always fun to dress goofy and not feel weird about it. When Friday night finally rolled around, the stands at the game were packed, a sea of school colors. There was always a bitter disappointment if our team lost, but that was soon forgotten by the next morning as students woke up to get ready for the big homecoming dance. All week the air felt electric, a palpable buzz.

When I left high school and came to Edinboro, it was so exciting to be able to make more homecoming memories with new college friends. The fresh fall air and the changing leaves always set the perfect stage for a weekend of fun. Homecoming at college is not exactly the same as high school, but the frenzy of school pride is similar.

But this year, the pandemic has stolen so much from so many and I can’t help but wonder, has it snatched away homecoming from us too?

The homecoming theme this year is “Roaring ’20s,” and as a sucker for any opportunity to wear a costume, this would have been so much fun for me. Instead, because of COVID-19, all events have been pushed to virtual venues. Why bother dressing up just to watch a homecoming tribute video before they crown ‘Boro’s king and queen? There isn’t a parade to watch while I stand on the sidewalk, gripping a hot chocolate, watching children scramble to collect candy that’s been thrown on the street from floats. I can’t go to the football game and cheer until I’m blue in the face, too warm in my Fighting Scots hoodie, but too filled with school pride to take it off. I miss the wheezing sound of the bagpipes. I know this is a controversial opinion, but I really love bagpipes — I’m actually listening to them while I write this.

I’m not on campus, or in Edinboro at all, like many I’m sure. Since I’m not there, I can’t even get together with some friends and watch the virtual events together. My hometown is not prepping for this coming weekend by hanging banners and decorating their doors with Royal Stewart tartan plaid to join in on the decorating contest. In fact, I don’t think I would’ve known it was homecoming weekend if I hadn’t been tasked with writing this.

Despite the university doing their best to make the virtual homecoming as close to the normal thing as possible, and they really have done a good job in including as many events as they can, it just doesn’t feel like it matters. I can’t be there, and I have no one to watch the virtual events with. There’s no Scottish food truck parked outside my house, tempting me and my friends to try haggis just for the experience.  

This year, homecoming feels like a lost cause. 

The whole fun of the weekend is getting to do all these things with friends and family. Alumni come back to campus, and friends you haven’t seen since they graduated make their triumphant return; you get to catch up, you get to hear about their “real life” job. Everything feels fresh and alive. It’s a time for people to come together. But this year, we’re all separate. 

Again, though, it’s not like the university isn’t trying. There are online reunions for specific groups, a virtual art show that would be great to see, and there’s even a virtual planetarium. The Kilted Mile, an Edinboro tradition, has adapted to the virtual format, with participants able to run their mile anywhere. I think we can commend the university, while knowing it won’t be even close to the same.   

I will be tuning into these online events, wearing my Edinboro hoodie, probably listening to pre-recorded bagpipe music, despite how much I don’t really want to. I just can’t say no to homecoming festivities. I could even attempt to make haggis myself in my home kitchen. This summer when I received the notice that we would not be returning to campus, I was devastated. I know it’s what’s best for the safety of others, and so many more people have lost much more than a semester on campus in this pandemic, but it just felt so unfair.   

Homecoming this year just feels like rubbing salt into that wound. I can watch from far away but cannot be there. Included but entirely isolated.  

Emily Anderson is the Voices Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com.

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