Homecoming ’06: Reaching Out to Involve Everyone

UT’s Homecoming Committee is looking to expand past the usual participation of the university’s organizations and clubs this year, focusing on a different approach towards gathering all-around student involvement in hopes of making Homecoming ’06 a success.

“In the past the homecoming committee has focused on getting student organizations involved,” said Kim Northup, two-year advisor for the Homecoming Committee. “This year we have reached out for individual participation, from those who are not involved in Greek Life or any other school-operated organization.”

UT senior Delfina Diaz also recognizes the gap in involvement between the organizations and the average student. According to Diaz, a lot of organizations get involved, but individual school spirit is low. “Homecoming right now is not appealing to the individual,” Diaz explained. “Student Government has been making efforts to get the majority of the student body involved.”

Two years ago, Homecoming had its own committee before moving under the umbrella of Student Productions. According to Northup, the Committee chose to switch to the help of Student Productions because they are better suited for organizing larger functions.

UT’s Associate Athletic Director Gil Swalls and his athletic marketing staff have taken matters in their own hands, using the ‘word-of-mouth’ approach to recruit student involvement. The staff consists of 19 UT students who are primarily marketing and sports management majors.

“A lot of these kids are a part of some sort of club or organization and are devoted to physically going out and asking students for their participation,” said Swalls.

Around Homecoming it is not uncommon to witness those of the athletic marketing staff cruising and singing cheers around campus from behind the wheels of colorfully decorated golf carts. The decorations consist of posters and streamers that advertise for the big Homecoming soccer game. According to Swalls, this will be the first year that the students will make rounds a couple of hours before the game, gathering others to taxi them to the Homecoming game.

The golf carts contribute in various ways to getting the attention of UT students for Homecoming events.

“Last year, the golf carts were driven around at noon blaring bull horns and waving illustrated posters to catch the lunch crowd,” said Swalls. The athletic marketing staff is also recruiting volunteers to go out and personally tell individuals about Homecoming. Despite all the help from student promoters and advertising, the Homecoming soccer game sells itself. “This game attracts the biggest crowd of the year,” said Swalls.

One of the reasons this remains true is because all the contestant winners from the week of events, and Homecoming King and Queen are announced at the game. This in return, requires all of UT’s student clubs and organizations to be present at the game in order to see if their organization has won anything. For the past two years Sigma Phi Epsilon has won the most spirited Greek award.

“We will be participating in all the events this year,” said UT sophomore and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Mark Kieslor. “Someone out of our fraternity is in charge of every event that we will take part in.” Every year the group acts as the cheerleaders for the UT Lady’s Football Tournament. Their president Anthony Winicko is running for Homecoming King.

This year a double-header soccer game will be played, with the women’s team game first, followed by the men’s.

“It will be interesting to see if the crowd remains for the entire length of both games,” said Swalls. “The Homecoming Committee has set it up to where during half-time of both games contest winners of some sort will be announced.” The games have been set up this way in hopes of keeping the crowd’s attention and attendance throughout the two games.

UT senior Starr Brookins, president of the Pre-Law Society, is using the meeting of the LSAT mini-test to promote student participation. “On Oct. 9, I will be passing out the Homecoming packets for students to see and register for the Homecoming events,” said Brookins. She also mentioned that a later meeting will be held with the members of the Pre-Law Society to target their participation as well. “I want them to participate as much as possible, especially in the Boys ‘ Girls Club event,” said Brookins.

Due to the building of Residence Hall VI, the traditional bonfire will not be held this year. The area of the new residence hall had served as the site for the bonfire. Now there is no area feasible for this event that would be in accordance with the fire code.

Bob Ruday, the Dean of Students, will serve as the Grand Marshal, leading the parade for the Homecoming spirit walk, which will take place Friday afternoon. To stay with the cycle of having a wide array of student participation, plans for Homecoming ’07 will start in November of this year. The early start will be geared towards increasing school spirit and starting traditions. In the previous years the Homecoming Committee would start their planning in the month of March, which didn’t allow for enough time.

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