By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
“Where Tradition Happens” was the theme of the 2017 University of Missouri–St. Louis’ Homecoming celebration. This ends the three-part tradition theme started in 2015 to try to build cohesiveness in the move from the fall to spring in which Homecoming is held.
Director of Student Life, Jessica Long-Pease, said, “With UMSL being as young as it is, I think, the tradition piece is the part that is challenging. … [The theme] gave us some continuity for the last couple years, and it connected each of those homecomings together.”
Homecoming Week started out with a friendly competition between offices at UMSL on February 10. The Office Spirit Competition required offices to have artwork with the name of the office, the slogan “Where Tradition Happens,” and the Facebook homecoming fan page. The offices were judged on effort, appearance, creativity, originality, tastefulness, and school spirit. The 2017 winner was the Human Resources Office, who received bragging rights all across campus and won up to $300 towards an office party.
Window Painting was the next event on February 12. Student groups and departments competed in showing their Triton pride on the Millennium Student Center Bridge’s windows. The displays stayed up all week. The winner of the competition was Alpha Xi Delta.
The Red and Gold Regatta took place right after the Homecoming Kickoff in the Recreation and Wellness Center on February 13. This wet competition puts student groups and campus departments in the pool racing cardboard boats they built. The winner this year was Pi Kappa Alpha.
Big Man on Campus was hosted by the Panhellenic Association in the J.C. Penney Auditorium on February 14. Students competed in a series of live events to win the title of Big Man on Campus. Collection buckets for a penny war were set up for audience members to vote for their favorite contestant. All proceeds went to benefit Girls, Inc. The winner this year was Braxton Perry, senior, physical education. Perry won Homecoming King last year and was sponsored by the sorority Delta Zeta.
Canstruction was held the morning of February 15. Students and student groups competed in collecting non-perishable cans to donate to the Pagedale Family Support Center. Groups competed to create a structure that reflected the Homecoming theme. This year there was a tie between Alpha Xi Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha for first place; 4,536 cans were collected in total. There were so many cans donated this year that one ton of cans was also taken to the Operation Food Search charity.
Five recipes were submitted for the Chili Feed, sponsored by the Faculty Senate on February 15. UMSL faculty and administration worked hard to bring several types of chili to their audience. The different types were Olivia’s Turkey Chili, Hearty White Chili, Traditional Chili, Three Course Chili, and 3-Bean Vegetarian Chili. For $5 everyone was able to try a serving from each entry and submit their favorite choice. They were then welcomed to have another serving of their favorite. All ticket proceeds went to the Pagedale Family Support Center, raising a total of $1,095. The winner of the Golden Ladle this year was Olivia’s Turkey Chili from the College of Arts and Sciences
The last event, held on February 15, was the Lip Sync Competition in the J.C. Penney Auditorium. Homecoming court candidates, student groups, and campus departments were invited to compete with a team of up to 10. The teams had to choreograph a dance and skit performance up to eight minutes in length. Nine student groups and two campus departments competed this year, including the homecoming court candidates, whose participation was mandatory. Nick Domescik, junior, psychology, won this year’s Lip Sync Competition.
The Homecoming blood drive took place on February 16 in the Century Rooms of the MSC. The Homecoming blood drive was one of the most highly participated drives of the year. Pi Kappa Alpha co-sponsored this year’s blood drive.
The spirit competition was split into two groups for student organizations of different sizes. Red level was set for student groups with members less than 20. Gold level was for student groups larger than 20 members. Pi Kappa Alpha used these two groups to award the most donations from student groups. Revolution Campus Ministry won for the Red Division for their donations. Alpha Xi Delta won for the Gold Division.
Service projects took place alongside the blood drive on February 16 and focused on community service projects around UMSL. Participants were able to stop by to take the cans collected for canstruction to the multiple charities, write letters to service members, and create dog toys for donations.
Homecoming brought together current students and alumni. Alex Neupert, UMSL alumnus, said, “As my first time coming to homecoming—now as an alumnus—I was totally surprised at what a great time I had.”
Sam Henderson, junior, criminal justice, said, “The atmosphere was great and inclusive. I loved the dance floor. I can’t wait till next year.”
The Homecoming Dinner and Dance took place on a Friday this year. The Homecoming Committee planned to set up 55 tables and sold 549 tickets. Homecoming tickets were on sale as early as the summer, but almost all of the tickets were sold during the week of Homecoming. Tickets included a beef and chicken dinner or a vegetarian dinner. Two photo booths were set up with props at the back of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel room. At 7:30 p.m. the program started, congratulating the crowdfunding efforts of the Homecoming court. For one week, the candidates were asked to raise money for a scholarship of their choice. Together they raised $4,035.
Overall spirit competition winners were announced at the dance. The student groups who won for each division received bragging rights for the next year and will have their name engraved on the Homecoming plaque in the Office of Student Involvement. For the Red Division, Revolution Campus Ministry won first place and the Entrepreneurial Group won second. For the Gold Division, Delta Zeta won first place, Alpha Xi Delta won second, and Zeta Tau Alpha won third.
King and Queen candidates were asked to crowdfund for a scholarship of their choice. Together, they raised $4,815 for UMSL scholarships. The Homecoming Queen candidates consisted of Alaina Altenbernd, junior, biology; Sara Hilpert, junior, psychology; Sarah Schaper, junior, nursing; Lizzy Turner, senior, criminology and criminal justice; and Madisyn Weiss, sophomore, criminology and criminal justice. Homecoming King candidates were Michael Clark, senior, accounting; Nick Domescik, senior, secondary education; AJ Rothman, senior, SUCCEED; and Mario Miles-Turnage, senior, media studies. The winner of Homecoming Queen was Hilpert and the Homecoming King winner was Domescik.
Homecoming Queen Hilpert said her favorite part of the Homecoming festivities was “getting to raise 1,963 cans for the Pagedale Community Center.”
Homecoming King Domescik said, “My favorite part of Homecoming was the opportunity to get more involved at UMSL. I also love all of the connections I had the opportunity to make.”