– University of Missouri-St. Louis’s Homecoming was moved from Fall 2013 to the Spring 2014 semester for this academic year.
PHOTO: Students dance at Homecoming in 2010. The Current ©

By Karlyne Killebrew, Staff Writer for The Current

For the first time since the early 2000s, University of Missouri—St. Louis’s Homecoming is being held in the spring, from February 3 through February 8. There has been a bit of buzz about the break in tradition as well as unofficial speculation about why the change was made.

Traditionally, Homecoming is held during the first week in October and centered around a men’s soccer game. However, there were no home games in the 2013 men’s soccer season, leading to an assumption that homecoming was moved to accommodate the sports schedule.  Jessica Long-Pease, Director of Student Life, clarified some details about the change.

“Homecoming is about bringing alumni back to the institution, creating networks between current students and alumni, and facilitating the idea of UMSL pride,” Long-Pease said. “We wanted to make sure that the connections we had with Homecoming made sense, so we decided in conversations with athletics and alumni relations that potentially moving homecoming back to February in conjunction with basketball would enable us to do more to promote UMSL athletics and pull our alumni back in…In addition we already have [a] signature athletic event—Pack the Stands—that enables us to take something already in existence where we’re seeing about 10,000 people at each game and tie that in at Homecoming.”

Student opinion on the matter varied across campus.

“It’s utterly ridiculous,” Robert Mason, junior, criminology and criminal justice, said. “It’s being held in February, so we just get off break January 20. No one’s really thinking about Homecoming as we would have been in October. We get back in August [so] we have a whole month in the fall semester to think about homecoming, get things ready, and get our tickets and such. That [change] could [contribute] to low ticket sales.”

Long-Pease assures that the marketing issues have been accounted for and accommodated.

“We’ve put information out starting in November. One of the things we’re doing to make easier access is putting the homecoming ticket sales online. Enabling the student to [purchase] electronically will keep sales up because there is not an obligation to come to campus,” Long-Pease said.

According to Long-Pease, 11 applications for Homecoming Court have been submitted so far. There is also a steering committee of 15 people, the largest Long-Pease has seen at UMSL.

Many students are embracing the change. Fredrecka McGlown, a graduate student studying communications, is one such student.

“It’s a good thing to be held in the spring, especially revolving the event around Pack the Stands. I think that will increase attendance at Homecoming…[and] help us develop a better relationship between the students and the alumni. It gives us the opportunity to be different from the rest of the universities, where students don’t necessarily have to worry about conflicts between homecomings at different institutions. It sets us apart,” McGlown said.

Homecoming 2014 will still feature some of the traditional events students can look forward to. The big dance will be held at the end of homecoming week as usual. A number of popular spirit activities like “Big Man On Campus” will also be returning. Additionally, a “Sink My Battleship” event will be held that Tuesday, as well as a 5K run on Saturday morning.

© The Current 2014