The Student Government Association’s objective with Homecoming this year has been to “focus on the diversity that Troy University has experienced to unify the student body.” However, only 28 out of the 171 active student organizations recognized by the SGA on campus are registered to participate in the various Homecoming events.
According to SGA Vice President of campus activities, Heath Barton, a junior risk insurance major from Opp, 58 campus organizations were present at this year’s Homecoming interest meeting but only 28 registered to compete.
Out of the 28 participating groups, 15 are Greek organizations. Similarly, the 19 candidates nominated for this year’s Homecoming court are all members of one of the five PanHellenic sororities.
Barton said that he thinks the Greeks are more heavily involved in Homecoming because of monetary reasons. “Homecoming does cost money,” he said. “A lot of the Greek organizations have dues that are able to pay for it.” Another reason, Barton added, was that Greeks like a certain level of competition amongst each other in addition to doing their chapter and philanthropy work.
Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement and leadership, said that another cause behind substantial Greek participation compared to other clubs is Homecoming being held very early in the semester and hence, the organizations that have been able to be organized that quickly have been mostly Greek.
“It’s just hard for many organizations that don’t even have their meetings till the end of September,” she said. Patterson also noted that the overall participation from student groups has been down in the last two years due to the earliness of the event.
Last year, 30 students were nominated for the Homecoming court by different organizations, while this year only 19 organizations have done so. The winners of the Homecoming court in the past three years have also all been members of the PanHellenic sororities.
“Why the other groups did not meet the deadline to nominate, I don’t know,” Patterson said. “Again I would guess that some of these groups probably had not even met at the time that nominations were due. “
“I was shocked that the nominations turned out this way,” said Zahra Qureshi, a senior psychology major and a nominee for the Homecoming court from the Chi Omega sorority from Dothan. “As someone who is involved on campus in organizations other than Greek life, I think it is so important to have diversity on court.
“Organizations should get the opportunity to be represented. Also, we, as a university, could promote and advertise the applications so each organization has the opportunity to put up a woman for court.”
Qureshi also said that the student body needs to have more school pride and that an equal opportunity for each student to attend and actively contribute to Homecoming week is essential to enhance student involvement.
“I would like to see more non-Greek organizations participating,” said Morgan Hoggle, a senior economics major and member of the Lambda Chi fraternity from Greensboro. “It would definitely change up the makeup of the Homecoming and kind of include more people in.”
Hoggle also said that many groups may not partake in Homecoming because it can seem like a lot to undertake. “Honestly, it may be a little bit of an intimidation factor, you know,” he said. “Also, it’s not really seen as something important. A lot of people don’t even go to the parade unless they are in it.”
Hoggle, who is also the president of the College Republicans, said that other than nominating a member for the Homecoming court, the organization has not been able to do a lot due to scheduling conflicts.
Hoggle said that Greek organizations certainly require more work and effort for Homecoming competitions. “You’ve got dance and skit and float committees,” he said. “It requires a lot of time. You got to communicate a lot. People who are on dance have a lot of pressure on them. You want to look good, you want to win, but it’s also fun. You don’t want 20 percent of the people doing 80 percent of the work.”
Many campus organizations have cited lack of time and resources as factors limiting them in full-fledged campus participation.
Elizabeth Brazier, a junior math major from Panama City, Florida, and the president of Circle K, said that although her club is participating in multiple events, gathering people who want to do it is a nuisance. “It is a little bit difficult because we don’t have the monetary or the human resources to do the stuff we would like to do,” she said. “We don’t have the chance to do more and make it more awesome.”
“The biggest challenge is probably having enough people to compete in all the different areas and not have the same group competing in everything,” said Kiley Ethridge, a junior exercise science major from Abbeville and homecoming coordinator for the BCM. Ethridge said that since the BCM encourages its members to be active outside of the ministry and hence, does not confine them to only take responsibilities at the BCM, it gets difficult to have many volunteers who can give full-time commitment to Homecoming activities.
The SGA has taken the initiative to involve more student groups by categorizing four different competing groups: the all-male, the all-female, co-ed and residence halls divisions.
Barton said that the introduction of residence halls as a separate division is aimed to help those people who may not be engaged in any other campus groups. “Some students are not involved in any organizations and totally focus on academics, and that’s fine,” he said. “So this gives them a chance to be involved with something other than academics and help their residence halls.”
This year, the dance competition has also been dropped from the co-ed division. According to William Johnson, a senior risk insurance management major from Montgomery and the 2014 Homecoming director, the feedback received from the advisers and members of the different co-ed organizations suggested difficulty in putting together dance performances. “They all said that they wouldn’t mind if the dance was taken off,” he said. Although co-ed groups may still perform if they wish to, they will not be competing against anyone.
“Whether you are Greeks or not, you still go to the same school. So that school has those origins, and everybody is related to that origin.” According to him, he sees homecoming as bringing everybody together to celebrate not only being a student of the college but also the college itself.
“It is celebrating what you think is great around the university,” he said. He adds that, for him, the purpose of homecoming is to bring students together to accomplish something and to add value to the time they have here at school.
Competing organizations also seem hopeful about gaining a positive experience from the event.
“For incoming members, it’s the first time they are trying to get along with older members and it’s the time to get to know each other,” Brazier said about Circle K. “Homecoming is to have fun, and, I guess, it is a good time to show off what we can do, too,” she said.
Ethridge hopes that homecoming events can help the BCM have more opportunities to share who they are as groups and what they are here for. “I hope that we can grow as an organization as far as fellowship and friendship from doing all these events together and reach out to the campus in a different way than what we have normally done,” she said.
As head of the Homecoming event, Barton said that he now realizes, more than ever, how important this event is. “Homecoming to me is realizing that Troy University is home,” he said. “It is a time when we must celebrate our home, the past, present and the future and come together as a Trojan family, as a true family.”
The SGA encourages students to come out to all the Homecoming events, particularly the dance and the skit events, which will be held at the Trojan Arena and is open to all students.
“Certainly come to the Pep rally,” Patterson said. “Certainly go to the game and support the team and tailgate with friends and enjoy spending time supporting the football team, meeting alumni and just be a part of the big football day weekend.”