Truth be told, I was never a fan of Homecoming during my first two years at Case Western Reserve University. Back then I associated the annual event with long lines at Leutner Commons, unfamiliar faces clogging pedestrian walkways and golf carts shuttling able bodied donors around campus.
But last year’s Homecoming changed my interpretation. University administrators opted to rebrand Homecoming into a celebration of alumni, families and students, in which the focus seemed to shift from collecting money to building community.
Last year’s celebration also represented the first time I was able to substantively engage with one of the university’s alum. Paul Kerson, a founding member of The Observer, reached out to our editorial board and desired nothing more than the opportunity to share his story with all who were willing to listen.
This interaction proved meaningful in a multitude of ways. Not only did the audience experience a snapshot of the Case Western Reserve campus during the Vietnam era, but we learned how, decades later, an individual can remain impacted by their student experience.
For me, Homecoming now serves as the time to remember that any effort undertaken by a student to further an organization or this institution does not occur in vain. Case Western Reserve students are safeguarders of the work completed by our alumni years before we enrolled at this school. More importantly, it is the responsibility of current students to ensure the opportunities given to tomorrow’s classes are as great, if not greater, than the ones we were given.
From Blue Block Party 2.0 to the annual Homecoming Parade, this week’s celebration offers many points of intersection between university alumni and current undergraduates. Rather than interpret Homecoming as a grand inconvenience exemplified by long dining hall lines, I invite students to envision it as a time to build community among people who share a mutual interest in Case Western Reserve.
After all, current students may comprise the university right now, but alumni built our past and will secure our future. And we will be joining their ranks soon enough.