Photo: Students show their school sprit at the Homecoming Kickoff in Abe Lemons Arena in the Freede Fitness and Wellness Center Oct. 27, 2011. (The Campus)
By Farris Willingham, Editor-in-Chief
Homecoming will embrace university tradition this year as its annual basketball games return to campus.
Homecoming will begin Oct. 25, with a weeklong competition between campus organizations to promote university pride. Festivities will conclude with two basketball games Nov. 1-2.
The university did not host the games last year because the opposing basketball team canceled, according to Student Publications’ archives.
The 2012 Homecoming committee plans to create new traditions and gather contestants from across the university this year, rather than relying solely on the Greek system for participation, said Jack Malone, Homecoming commissioner of Student Government Association.
“We want to involve the entire campus, whether they’re competing in the contests or just coming to the events,” he said. “We’ll also have some new surprises that will hopefully become traditions in years to come.”
The committee wants a variety of organizations participating in the competition, Malone said.
“Last year we had the largest amount of organizations competing at Homecoming,” he said, adding that there were 10 groups. “We want to continue that.”
To increase involvement, Malone said his committee will continue last year’s rule of allowing organizations to combine members as long as their team’s roster doesn’t exceed 100 members.
Claire Thompson, acting/music sophomore, was not involved in last year’s Homecoming, but plans to join festivities this year.
“I look forward to participating in such a unifying celebration of OCU,” she said. “It’s a good place for students to showcase their talent.”
One committee goal is to attract more alumni and involvement outside the campus community, he said.
“In the past years, alumni support has not been the best,” Malone said. “This year, we’re starting an alumni team to compete in two of the competitions.
“We’re hoping that will attract some recent graduates to put together a little lip-sync.”
The committee also will work to diversify the judges’ panel, he said.
“This year, we’re working on getting local celebrities to bring some excitement and community recognition to the event,” Malone said, adding that none have been confirmed yet. “It will make the judging process seem fairer, so that it’s not just alumni judging Greek house performances.”
Allegations of cheating, like reusing former Homecoming pieces in competitions, arose last year that the committee did not address, Malone said.
“Infractions will be taken more seriously,” he said. “To be transparent, we’re going to do checks at Greek houses to make sure they’re following the rules and not using pre-made things for the competitions.
“It’s not to hinder their efforts, but to even the playing field.”
The committee received about $17,550 on Aug. 28 from Student Senate—more than a 20 percent decrease from last year’s Homecoming budget of $22,000, Malone said.
“We’re trying to lower the budget because a lot of the money was spent on the carnival,” he said. “We won’t have that this year.”
The committee will release the theme and rules for Homecoming in a meeting Oct. 1.