Campus Life | November 10th, 2020
Freshmen Imagine FAMU’s Renowned Homecoming
By: Xavette Allen
As the academic year progresses, it seems like this year’s freshmen class has received the short end of the stick. Though welcomed with open arms, the effects of COVID-19 have postponed various proceedings that are staple events not just for Florida A&M University, but for HBCUs as a collective.
While well aware that the sole purpose of college is to pursue academic excellence, students have emphasized how they craved the cultural aspect of college as well.
“I chose FAMU for the experience,” says first-year political science student Ariel Burks. “The college experience as a whole but the HBCU experience specifically because we all know that’s different. I did it for the culture.”
There is a certain level of culture that you experience when you decide to attend an HBCU. To some, it is a culture shock and for others, it’s their normalized way of life. Yet, for everyone, it becomes a home away from home. Homecoming, a 2019 concert film that captured Beyonce’s historically groundbreaking Coachella performance, captivates it all as it centers the cultural appreciation that engulfs HBCUs.
Despite being aware that this semester wasn’t going to go as planned, incoming students proceeded to pack their things and start the next chapter in their lives. From move-in day to the garage parties to the nerf gun wars in the halls of FAMU’s Village dormitory, freshmen have tried to find ways to find a sense of normalcy amidst their situation. While it’s not the college life they wistfully hoped for, it is the life that they have made it. Having been in Tallahassee for a few months now, many have gotten a feel for this new way of life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t reminisce on what could have been — especially homecoming.
Homecoming by definition is the tradition of welcoming back former students and members to celebrate their existence. An HBCU homecoming is about more than that. This week-long event demonstrates cultural pride and is taken very seriously by the student body. At an HBCU, having homecoming is about your love for your institution by embracing its culture. Through history, style and music, students develop a sense of unity and pride for their historically black college or university. Rattlers specifically, bring out all the stocks. Letting the entire world that they are the #1 HBCU in the country for every reason.
There are quite a few events that freshmen wish that they could experience but one that they can unanimously agree on being disappointed in not having is a homecoming.
While upperclassmen and alumni reminisce on past homecomings, the class of 2024 continues to leave it up to their imagination. “I’ve never experienced homecoming,” says first-year public relations student Jerrald Belcaries. “So I can’t describe it. But I can’t wait until I can.”
For the freshmen class, homecoming is an experience that they can only vicariously live through others at the moment. For now, YouTube videos that capture previous years are their only source of experience but watching and being there are two different levels of excitement. Freshmen may have never got to experience life with these events, however, they have been frantically waiting to partake as they were able to view everything via the internet.
The anticipation has been built as the media portrays homecoming as an event unlike anything else. Through movies, such as Stomp the Yard and Drumline, viewers can get a taste of the hype that surrounds the homecoming season for an HBCU.
Showcased on all platforms, when October rolls around, FAMU students already know what time it is. Spirit on campus is high, the Incomparable Marching 100 is heard and the students are ready. There will always be something going on when homecoming is upon us. Seen as an essential part of the HBCU culture, it will never be an understatement to say that no one does homecoming like an HBCU does, especially FAMU. Because if there is anything that FAMU is going to do, it’s going to deliver a worthwhile time.
So much so that when asked if there could have been an alternative to homecoming, alum and students alike said that anything isn’t comparable to the real thing.
There does seem to be some form of hope when it comes to this year’s freshmen class experience. Many have still found ways to keep themselves occupied. “If there’s one thing FAMU ‘24 is going to do, it is persevere,” says Belcaries.
Though disappointed, they do understand that there isn’t much that can be done about the situation. “We understand that the university is doing everything in their power to keep us safe,” says Ariel Burks. “I know we are asking for a lot but I am still appreciative of the effort that the university has been putting forth to give us some type of experience.”
However, it doesn’t seem like all hope is lost. There is a possibility that everyone will be allowed to come back to campus for the spring semester. Football games, organizational events and even homecoming have been considered to reschedule for the spring semester. If that does become the case, then things are looking up for Florida A&M’s class of 2024.