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Students, staff and alumni look forward to homecoming week every year. Participating in activities, visiting old professors, enjoying Rock football again and the annual parade spur a feeling of togetherness and nostalgia.
However, homecoming can only make us feel this way if it is carried out with the same amount of effort and passion as it always has been.
This year’s homecoming theme is “Feelin’ 22.” A mixtape accompanies the phrase on all promotional items, which alludes to the intended meaning.
In an SRU news article, the university explains that the theme is a nod to Taylor Swift’s song “22.” That is the only explanation for why they chose this theme.
Using the year as a reference to a party song from the early 2010s is somewhat creative, but a theme has to be built around the song. It needs to act as more than just a title.
Is this a nostalgia theme? An ode to the early 2010s? If so, why a mixtape as the logo? It would be much more appropriate to use an iPod with a pair of corded earbuds.
Giving their own takes on the theme, organizations participated in spirit board paintings, where they painted popular songs on poster boards. Songs included California Gurls by Katy Perry, Born This Way by Lady Gaga and Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin.
The “Feelin’ 22” theme is either just vague enough to be interpreted in different ways, or it is a boring attempt to appeal to a wide audience.
Not so welcoming
With the confusion about the theme and lack of ample advertising, this year’s homecoming doesn’t feel as collective or welcoming as it has before.
SRU’s Instagram account has been posting about each day’s events exclusively on their Instagram story. Instagram story posts disappear after 24 hours. A few social media posts here and there doesn’t seem like enough.
The university should consider letting student employees have a more hands-on experience with the next homecoming social media campaign. Students know what students (or former students) like, and that could increase involvement for everyone.
Thinking about what grabs students’ attention in general would work for the homecoming committee’s benefit: More emails, social media posts and posters.
Most of the issues being talked about among the student body could be solved if students were more involved in the planning process.
Other high schools and colleges give the student body a few different options to choose from for a homecoming theme. SRU should consider doing this in the future.
Taking advantage of nostalgia
The first time that Rally for Rocky was announced to the public was on Sept. 12. The SRU University Advancement Twitter account tweeted about the launch of the campaign, saying once it reaches $22,000, Rocky the Rock would make a “special one-time appearance” during homecoming.
When you consider what would happen if $22,000 is raised—the university’s old mascot making a singular appearance during homecoming week—it seems like an unrealistic, big ask.
The old Rocky the Rock costumes are housed within the Bailey Library Archives, after Bob Jones, SRU alum of 1983 and original wearer of the costume, donated the homemade Rocky costume in 2016. The Rocky the Rock costume, and other memorabilia, are on display for students to see on the third floor of the Bailey Library.
It is not clear why this large sum of money must be raised to see a mascot one time when it is already on display. It feels like an easy money grab that preys on nostalgia in exchange for thousands of dollars.
Most of these Twitter posts about the Rally for Rocky event do not mention the fact that this money is going towards the SRU Scholarship Fund, according to the description on the campaign site. Posts that mention the scholarship fund are few and far between.
This is the first known time that the university has used a fundraiser like this to collect money. So, how have they raised money for the scholarship fund before? And what has given them the need to pass the proverbial donation bucket?
It seems like alumni are the most interested demographic in this one-time Rocky appearance. A whopping 71% of the donations are from alumni, compared to 1% from students.
With 117 donors and four days remaining as of Oct. 11, the Rally for Rocky campaign has only raised over $15,000.
What happens when the $22,000 goal isn’t met? This amount of money being raised with no outcome might make homecoming fall flatter than it already has.