Oakland Outlook: Make Homecoming great again

Oakland Outlook is a bi-weekly blog written by TPN staffers chronicling their experiences as college students living in Oakland.

More stories from Megan Williams & Ana Eberts

Despite attending Pitt for the past two years, despite growing up near Pittsburgh and despite being generally active members of the community, we still don’t know what Homecoming is. There are fireworks at the Cathedral and an elected king and queen, but the details on how they’re chosen are confusing at best. According to the website, one of the actual “events” of this weekend is … rubbing the Panther statue’s nose. Really? Pitt needs to up its game on Homecoming. Celebrating our college should feel fun, seasonal and inclusive of all students, rather than simply an undefined event that passes without much fanfare, enjoyed by a small percentage of the student population.

Lucky for Pitt admin, we’ve got suggestions on how to improve Homecoming.

Megan’s Pick: A carnival

Fireworks are great, but they remind most of us of summer — why not spend at least one day of Homecoming weekend leaning into autumn? A carnival might sound expensive, but Pitt could easily pull off a low-budget version that would still feel fun and celebratory of fall. The most essential part of every carnival is its food, so allowing food trucks like The Coop Chicken and Waffles to park in front of the Union Saturday and sell their warm apple pie delicacies would be a great way to get Pitt students in the October mood. Directing people to Redhawk Coffee for a delicious latte would stimulate taste buds and local business. Beyond that, allowing students to set up booths at Schenley Plaza based on their interests and hobbies — art students for Pitt-themed face painting, anyone?— would be a great, cheap way to involve students who might stray from football games and overpriced sweatshirts.

Megan’s Pick: A reading at Schenley Plaza

To kick off Homecoming, why not have a reading for writing hobbyists and majors in Schenley Plaza? Challenge students at Pitt to write in any form about what ‘home’ means to them. The other half of any good Homecoming, beyond celebrating Pitt, is exploring the multifaceted ways in which Pitt serves as a ‘home,’ from the first-year living in Tower A to the senior commuting from the South Hills. There’s no better way to foster a sense of community than bringing diverse people together in vulnerability and in love.

Ana’s Pick: Justice for fall break

Make homecoming weekend a three-day weekend for students! By the time Homecoming comes around, everyone is exhausted, has been battling a cold for the past three weeks and is utterly burnt out. Fall break used to be the one reprieve in the endless weeks between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, and if we are all being honest, Thanksgiving can at times feel like less of a break and more of a family-filled stress fest before finals. If students had an extra day at the end of October, they could take the opportunity to enjoy the Homecoming festivities without worrying about the next week’s assignments. For those who live within a few hours of campus, it would also be the perfect opportunity for students to have a homecoming of their own — visiting family and friends.

Ana’s Pick: Make Oakland home for current students, not just alumni

Create opportunities for current students to make Oakland a bit more homey. Perhaps that would mean a pop-up, in-person version of Pitt’s Free & For Sale: Oakland, where students could browse new furniture, decor or appliances for their dorms and apartments. Many students, myself included, find it difficult to make an apartment or dorm feel less like a temporary study space and more like a living space. Creating accessible opportunities for students, especially those without access to a car on-campus, to purchase household goods could alleviate this problem. There is also the Pitt Surplus Property sale that could bring out items to show in person. Though this one is a bit more niche — no one needs (nor should use) a Corning Stirrer Hot Plate from Chevron to keep their coffee warm — there are some items, like desktop computers, shelving units, basketball hoops and photo and lighting equipment, that could definitely be useful to a student trying to make Oakland home on a budget. University of Thriftsburgh could also get in on this, offering smaller items, like accessories and clothing. During Orientation week Thriftsburgh hosts a rummage sale, offering clothing and household items, but it would also be helpful for students to have another opportunity later in the year to get the things they forgot the first time around or the things they did not even know they needed.

Ana’s Pick: Walking tour of Oakland for current students

One of the scheduled activities for alumni visiting campus for Homecoming weekend is a guided campus walking tour taking place on Friday, Oct. 25. In addition to this, why not create a walking tour of Oakland for current students that could feature cheap eats, like Sree’s Foods, or not-so cheap eats, like Pie for Breakfast or Crepes Parisiennes in North Oakland? Create a guided tour of Schenley Park and help students who are still relatively new to Oakland find green spaces to relax, go for a run or just get out of Oakland proper for one precious hour. Make a tour of study spaces run by upperclassmen who know the ins and outs of where and when to study.