Opinion | Homecoming is the fall’s most important event, especially this year

The+Cathedral+of+Learning+during+a+past+Homecoming+fireworks+and+laser+show.+

TPN File Photo

The Cathedral of Learning during a past Homecoming fireworks and laser show.

By Jessica Snyder, For The Pitt News

Pitt commenced fully in-person classes last Monday — officially ending the online format that began nearly two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. With life on campus slowly returning to the normal we knew in 2019, it seems only natural to eagerly anticipate Homecoming.

Everyone suffered through the pandemic and its abundant consequences. While the Delta variant poses a looming threat over students’ safety, we can try and find some relief in the Homecoming events that are still a go — while still being safe, of course. The pandemic has, and continues to, foster a lot of confusion in our daily lives. 

Homecoming this year is a reunion, symbolizing a light at the end of the tunnel. With that being said, this year’s festivities are probably the most important ones of our lifetimes, whether you are a fan of Homecoming or not. 

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, the pandemic is far from over. Thankfully, however, the University deemed it safe enough to have in-person classes and in-person events. With most of the student population vaccinated and wearing masks, the risks of an event like Homecoming are mitigated.

Pitt left school spirit on the back burner for almost two years as safety took the forefront during the height of the pandemic, and the University discouraged in-person events. With COVID-19 safety concerns steadily subsiding, it goes without question that Homecoming should become a top priority during the fall semester in order to strengthen the Pitt community.

Even without considering the tremendous impact that COVID-19 had on social events, this year’s Homecoming is groundbreaking in that it will be the second Homecoming, and first in-person Homecoming, without a gendered king and queen. After a pandemic and much social discourse about neutralizing gendered terms, Homecoming is back and more inclusive than ever.

Pitt has done a fairly good job with inclusivity — such as adding general education requirements and joining the Aspire program — and making the Homecoming court gender neutral only proves that further. Homecoming was already a big event before the pandemic, so showing gender inclusivity in what will surely be a bigger event this year is essential in binding the Pitt community together.

It’s also worth noting that two classes of Pitt students have not experienced a typical college Homecoming. Homecoming in college is worlds away from Homecoming in high school. The student body chose to attend Pitt, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that the majority of us have some sort of school spirit. In high school, we went to school based on the zip code that our parents chose for us. Now we go to school based on our interests and strengths, which is certainly something that should be celebrated.

Homecoming was a strange experience for me in high school. I grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia, and it was a big deal when Homecoming came around. There was a Homecoming parade that went around our entire town, as well as a game and a dance on the weekend. Needless to say, Homecoming in college is nothing like what it was in my high school. 

The world of college homecoming is vast and has lots of moving parts. Pitt fosters an informal atmosphere so that students can participate in as many or as little Homecoming events as they want — there really is no pressure to even attend at all. A laissez-faire attitude toward Homecoming allows students to make the event their own.

Although I am not a Homecoming organizer myself, I still think there is value in this year’s Homecoming no matter your background. For one, it is clear that Pitt is making great efforts toward inclusivity — something that should make Homecoming more enjoyable for everyone. Pitt is also actively working toward rejuvenating the student body after the COVID-19 pandemic. With Homecoming returning to an in-person format this year, drumming up school spirit should be an effortless process this fall semester.

Homecoming is ultimately what you make of it, whether you enjoy watching football or not. With numerous events lined up for the week, surely there will be at least one to appeal to each and every student at the University. After such a long period of disengagement from campus, it seems only right to celebrate each other through the diversity and unconditional love that this year’s Homecoming can offer. If safety remains the priority at homecoming, this event could be one for the books. 

Jessica Snyder primarily writes about controversy in art and politics. Write to her at [email protected].

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