For the past 97 years, Howard University’s homecoming events have been a cultural staple for Howard students and alumni alike. So, on Sept. 10, many were dismayed to hear that these festivities would not be held in-person, for the second year in a row.
This news came as a shock to many, as the University had previously announced the projected in-person homecoming dates, Oct. 16-24, in their Howard University Community Newsletter, about a month before. In spite of beloved events such as YardFest and tailgate being cancelled, the University’s homecoming football game will still take place in-person on Oct. 23 at Greene Stadium, which is located adjacent to Howard’s campus. The Howard University football team will go head-to-head with the Norfolk State University Spartans at 1 p.m.
In a recent email broadcasted by HU Communications, the University concurs that they are planning events that will comply with the hybrid model, in order to preserve the homecoming spirit, which will include virtual ceremonies for students as well as alumni. Despite this, some students are still feeling skeptical.
Sierra Gee, a sophomore environmental studies major, expresses feelings of disappointment after the news broke.
“At this point, where they’re going though, it seems like a lot of things are going to get cancelled,” said Gee. “So I’m not going to get my hopes up about things.”
According to the email sent out by HU Communications, the homecoming resolution was made primarily to avoid large gatherings, which are generally not advised as the world is still recovering from the persistent global pandemic.
Frank Tramble, Howard University’s Vice President of Communications and Chief Communications Officer addressed the nature of the decision, and the expected response to the announcement.
“Our decision to make Homecoming hybrid was based on the health and safety of our community. It remains our #1 priority. We are still in a pandemic. We expect that the news will come as a sad, but expected update. However, we have faith that our students will understand our responsibility to keep our community as healthy as possible,” stated Tramble.
As aforementioned, this is the second year in a row that Howard University has had to cancel or modify their homecoming events, due to Covid-19 ravaging the nation. In August, the University opened up its campus to students for the first time since March 2020. According to the COVID-19 Campus Testing Dashboard, since the week of August 17, both the student and faculty positive Covid-19 cases have stayed below 1%.
Though many are saddened by this unforeseen news, some students still feel that this settlement came as a result of the current state of the world, and the tireless nature of Covid-19.
Dontarius James, a senior sports management student acknowledges the context of the decision to no longer hold homecoming in-person. “I actually think it’s a good thing,” remarks James. “To prevent Covid and everything.”
Those who were looking forward to in-person events should not despair, as the University is expected to announce the homecoming hybrid events in the coming weeks. Additionally, Howard’s campus is set to host a number of in-person and virtual events through the rest of the school year.