There is a tradition that takes place every fall around campus at CSU that harkens back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. This tradition is the annual homecoming celebration that has taken place every fall since 1914.
Though many things have changed since homecoming’s inception, connecting alumni to campus has always been a cornerstone for the event. Associated Students of CSU Director of Student Services Taylor Jackson said this connection is a positive experience, both for the students and for the grads.
“The opportunity for a lot of different age groups to connect or reconnect with fellow Rams is amazing,” Jackson said. “It helps freshmen relate to alumni, and it means a lot to those of us who are about to graduate, as it allows us one final chance to enjoy the feeling of community here at school.”
Jackson’s opinion on the school’s hallmark event has changed drastically since she arrived as a freshman.
“I did not participate in homecoming until my junior year at CSU,” Jackson added. “Last year was my first experience, and it really made me wish that I had done it before.”
A key component in having a positive homecoming experience is the cooperation between various groups on campus. No one knows how crucial this collaboration is than Alumni Association Director and CSU class of 1994 graduate Colleen Meyer, who puts together the functions for returning Rams.
Meyer, who has worked at CSU since 2000, believes past homecoming success has come from creating a welcoming atmosphere where past and present students can come together to embrace a shared experience.
“We realize that homecoming and family weekend were events that needed to be embraced,” Meyer said. “Homecoming weekend is a perfect opportunity to showcase what past graduates have done for our campus, while allowing them to rekindle old friendships and reconnect with current students.”
The 50-Year Club Luncheon, which helps Rams connect to their university takes place on Friday of homecoming week. This event is key in building a tight-knit community for past and present CSU Rams.
“I love [the luncheon] because of the stories I’m able to hear from graduates,” Meyer added. “They have life experiences that we cannot even fathom, it is tough to describe how special this luncheon is, but I can tell you that it’s a jewel of an event for homecoming weekend.”
CSU Office of Events & Constituent Management Executive Director Matthew Helmer believes the parade’s routing through Old Town and the oval builds a unique experience for visitors.
“A lot of schools have homecoming parades, but ours is a little bit different,” Helmer said. “CSU’s Homecoming is our best opportunity to open up the campus and welcome everyone back to campus, and to celebrate the time that they had here.”
Another thing that Helmer believes sets CSU’s homecoming apart is the vast amount of planning that goes into every activity. The Office of CSU Events spends about a calendar year planning and putting together the 30-plus events that are hosted during the weekend.
“Homecoming here is a university-wide effort,” Helmer added. “It really does take a village to put this on, as both homecoming and parents weekend are huge, so it is important that we work from the same playbook.”
Event planners like Helmer and Meyer said that their goal is to share the importance of homecoming weekend with past and present students, and to inspire them to enjoy the experience.
“Above all I would like to say that it would be great for students to experience homecoming weekend,” Meyer said. “Don’t forget that it is homecoming and that we would really love to see as many students as possible participate in it.”
Collegian Writer Chris Boan can be reached at email@example.com.