This year, Bradley has decided to condense Homecoming Weekend and Family Weekend into a single two-day span on Oct. 1-2. Previously, Family Weekend has been held during September, while Homecoming was held separately later in the month or in October.
The Scout believes that this combination brings forth both benefits and hindrances.
Higher attendance to events
There are few better ways to boost campus morale than a Homecoming Week filled with events. While last year’s Homecoming events provided a reprieve from a pandemic-filled semester, they weren’t the same for one big reason: the lack of substantial crowds in attendance. With 76% of students and 77% of faculty vaccinated as of last week, the university can lift crowd-size restrictions without worrying about triggering a spread of the virus. This will lead to electric atmospheres at events such as Lighting of the B and the Homecoming soccer game that the Hilltop was accustomed to prior to the pandemic.
Return of Bradley soccer tailgate
When you think of what the fall season looks like on college campuses, tailgating is one of the first things that come to mind. Obviously, the absence of a Bradley football team doesn’t afford the possibility of a traditional tailgating scene, but setting up a canopy, playing bags and grilling brats for a soccer game is an undisputed BU tradition. Family Weekend plus Homecoming combined into one weekend could be the equation to the highest turnout outside Shea Stadium in recent memory. Other schools with football programs can tailgate six times a year; Bradley generally only draws a crowd once. Adding to the anticipation, there has not been a Homecoming tailgate since 2019, so the scenes on Saturday night outside Shea Stadium promise to provide an exciting experience for both current students and those visiting from out of town.
With the fall festivities that create the on-campus presence of both Homecoming Week and Family Weekend, the combination of both occasions can prove quite cost-effective. Separate series of attractions are prepared for each, which require sizable costs. Furthermore, although Homecoming largely consists of the same traditional events year after year, the delicacies, games and performances that need to be outsourced for Family Weekend may be more up in the air. Streamlining them both to make the most of the preparation in one fell swoop lends its hand to a more efficient use of money.
Although the greater attendance at Homecoming events can be seen as a positive to the university, there are also negatives when it comes to bigger crowds. Lighting of the B is usually a well-attended event, as it defines Homecoming at Bradley, so navigating an even larger crowd that includes parents and possibly younger children can be a hindrance. Even though Homecoming events are mainly hosted outside, these large crowds may not be COVID-19 friendly, especially when it is unknown how many visiting family members are vaccinated.
Students can’t… be students
Although there are many events that hold a special place in the hearts of Bradley students, none are as prolific as Homecoming. Without fail, Lighting of the B comes up in nearly every conversation during Homecoming Week, with students flooding Olin Quad the night of. Even for Bradley students who aren’t as concerned with the college experience, most everyone attends Homecoming festivities at least once during their time at Bradley. Thus, having parents hover around during Homecoming Week detracts from the novelty. Students shouldn’t have to worry about playing host to their families during this momentous occasion, torn between catering to their families’ needs or hanging out with friends and participating in… events tailored toward college kids.
Inauthentic family weekend experience
Since Homecoming isn’t specifically geared toward families, some parents may be surprised at the different atmosphere on campus as opposed to a traditional Family Weekend or a visit day. Despite combining Homecoming and Family Weekend, the scheduled programming is noticeably lacking in events geared toward younger children. Sure, the athletic events might be fun, but it’s doubtful that anyone under the age of six will be paying attention to the Founder’s Day Convocation. Why even bring your children if you’re just going to go to the alumni nights at Jimmy’s Bar on Friday and Saturday?