While Homecoming traditions have changed since their first occurrence in 1889, the event continues to serve as a celebration of community at Oregon State University.
This year’s Homecoming is centralized around the phrase “Your OSU, your home.”
Events including Spirit Week, Battle of the DJs and a tailgate decoration competition are aimed to help ignite school spirit leading up to the Homecoming football game on Oct.12. Kate Sanders, director for Alumni Programs and Alumni Group Travel, said athletics act as the foundation and main attraction of Homecoming.
“There is something special about cheering on your Alma Mater—the air is filled with spirit and camaraderie. Football is the perfect anchor for campus to expand upon with Homecoming events and activities, harnessing that spirit and love for OSU,” Sanders said via email.
Although football is now a distinct part of a Homecoming celebration, the sport was not initially included in the event. Homecoming began as an occasion for alumni to return to campus to congratulate the latest graduating class and welcome them into the Alumni Association. As time passed and students grew bored with old Homecoming traditions, a friendly football game between current students and alumni became the new tradition in 1904. Currently, the Homecoming football game is decided and scheduled by PAC-12.
In addition to the Homecoming game, the Alumni Association, along with the help of many departments throughout campus, have established numerous new events and traditions. According to Sanders, the on-campus community grows closer through Homecoming.
“The whole campus comes together for a weekend of celebration. It takes everyone to create a special Homecoming,” Sanders said.
Mamta Chowdhury, early engagement director, said the purpose of these events, among others, is to help bring alumni and current students together to share a sense of community.
“Homecoming helps build the OSU community, and you’re most at home when you’ve found your community,” Chowdhury said.
Homecoming builds the OSU community by hosting inclusive events that encourage individuals of all ages and backgrounds to participate. Some events, such as Spirit Week, are geared towards students, but other events, like the tailgate decoration competition, are aimed at the broader OSU and Corvallis community. According to Sanders, alumni, fans and students are given the opportunity to express their OSU spirit through decorating their tailgaters, and are encouraged to post pictures on social media to allow e-campus students and fans at home to be involved.
“Tailgating on this campus has always been a strong tradition, and that’s something we are embracing with the new tailgate decorating contest,” Sanders said.
With Homecoming placed closely to the beginning of the school year, students are able to relax and socialize before midterms begin, according to Grace Yeo, third-year biology student.
“The events during homecoming week are a good opportunity to hang out with new people I’ve met in classes,” Yeo said.
There are many benefits of bringing alumni and students together, and OSU alumni love to share advice and tips with current students and give back to their community in many other ways, according to Chowdhury. This Homecoming, 1960 alumni and National Medal of Science recipient, Warren Washington, will be giving a lecture on ‘The Historic Development of Climate Models and Geoengineering of the Earth's Climate.’
For a full list of homecoming events, traditions and activities, visit the OSU Alumni Association website.