“Back to Our Future” Homecoming Week Revels in Coming Together

Seattle University’s Homecoming holds a different feeling and meaning this year. An annual event that celebrates returning alumni and fosters student school spirit, the 2021 edition comes after a year of COVID-19 induced separation, and is a welcome home to everyone within the Seattle U community. This sentiment was reflected in this year’s theme: Back to Our Future.

During the week, students showcased their school spirit by dressing up on themed days, attending events and participating in competitions. At the same time, Seattle U hosted two reunions for alumni: the 50+ Reunion for those who graduated in 1971 or earlier and the Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) alumni, who graduated between 2012 and 2021.

Fourth-year Political Science and Strategic Communications major Graham Wielgos, who won Homecoming Court in 2019 and is a part of this year’s planning committee, detailed the process of putting the week together and what it symbolizes.

“We started meeting for the homecoming committee in April or May and we were all online,” Wielgos said. “And so we had a really unique opportunity to recreate homecoming and recreate the spirit of campus and have the ability to kind of show campus like ‘We’re back. We’re here’ … It’s a unique opportunity where students and alumni and the whole Seattle U community gets to come together and celebrate our spirit and have a good time together.”

Motivated by the desire to bring the community together, the week featured multiple interactive experiences. From Nov. 8 to 10, students could catch a ride in the Class Cab and along the way win prizes by answering trivia questions. On Nov. 11, the Robert Bennedsen Veteran’s Day 5k brought together students and donations went to the Veteran’s Emergency Fund, which helps Seattle U students who experience non-tuition based financial emergencies.

Redzone hosted a Homecoming Parade followed by S’morescoming Nov. 12. Before the parade, the results of the Club Banner Competition were awarded, with the Japanese Student Association, Seattle U Hidaka Taiko and Korean Student Association taking the top three spots. 

The parade was led by President Eduardo Peñalver, who acted as Grand Marshall, and featured the Seattle U drumline, student clubs, athletes and cheerleaders, along with students. Afterwards, students got to make s’mores around small fires in the Quad.

In the spirit of celebration, many students participated in the different activities and events. First-year Pre-major student Britney Tere Ramirez Osorio, who participated in Denim and Red Day and attended the parade, shared that she enjoyed the main events the most because they brought the community together.

“In the parade, I can see the community and people coming together,” Osorio said. “During the week, we didn’t have many events to come together, so with the parade, I think it helps unify people because this is a main event.”

Rhy Mac, first-year creative writing student, also dressed according to the daily campus themes and went to S’morecoming Friday night. He looked forward to the Homecoming Court Bingo and enjoyed the expansiveness of the week.

“I am definitely looking forward to going to Drag Bingo [with Alexis Michele],” Mac said. “This week’s been nice because my high school did homecoming but never this big. So it’s been cool to be able to interact with part of the community I’ve never interacted with before during my first few months here.”

The weekend kicked off with the Women’s Basketball game, which ended in a loss against University of California, San Diego. The game was not without notable performances, with Sophomore Peyton Howard scoring a career-high 15 points for the Redhawks.

The day concluded with Homecoming Court Bingo hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Star Alexis Michelle, in which several students took home prizes including a Fujifilm Instax Mini Polaroid Camera, Beats Studio wireless buds and the grand prize of a limited-edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch. To end the event, Michelle lip synced to Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” and Andrew Gold’s “Thank You for Being a Friend.”

Another aspect of Homecoming Week is community voting for Homecoming Royals, which are elected by the students. To get to know them better, each day the nominees completed an Instagram Takeover on the Center for Student Involvement’s account.

Second-year Psychology major Christina Beavers, one of the Homecoming Court nominees, explained why she wanted to get involved with this traditional week.

“I really love school spirit,” Beavers said. “I love being able to soak in why I love my school. Get my friends involved. I love the little activities that the school puts on … I did the class cab on Monday and I was doing trivia in the golf cart and talking to students and getting to know them a bit … I like homecoming because it brings a community of students together. So we all get to celebrate why we’re here.”

Beavers also shared what it would mean for her to win Homecoming Court. (After the interview, Beavers would go on to become one of the Homecoming Royals on Sunday night.)

“If I were to win, it would mean a lot to me,” Beavers said. “I just feel like it would be a great thing to share, just to share the love with all my friends and family. It would be a fun experience, really rewarding, and I would be honored to lead.”

There was an alumni and Students of Color Reception, Athlete Alumni Reception and Rally Nov. 14. To conclude Homecoming Week, the Seattle U Men’s Basketball team took on Idaho State University at Climate Pledge Arena, an event that brought students and alumni together. Before the game, there was a rally where attendees could play games such as cornhole, spikeball and ladder toss. The Redhawks decisively won the game , 77-51, led by Junior Riley Grigsby who scored a career-high 30 points.

Seattle U Men’s Basketball guard Jaren Nafarrete, a third-year business management student, detailed what it meant to sport the red and black during this Homecoming week, noting that playing in the Climate Pledge Arena adds to the uniqueness of the moment.

“To represent Seattle U in this Homecoming game is a blessing,” Nafarrete wrote in a statement to The Spectator. “It’s an opportunity to represent all the alumni that came before us and honor the efforts, traditions, and culture that the university has not only been founded upon, but prides itself on each day. Each member of the team has a deep appreciation for Seattle U, so being able to play in front of the whole community and organization is precious to us as [it] allows us to show a ‘thank you’ for everyone and everything that is a part of the university.”

Looking back over the week as a whole, First-year Nursing major Audrey Graham, a participant in nearly every spirit day and  event, shared what the best part of her Homecoming week was.

“My favorite part of this week was either the Homecoming game or S’morescoming,” Graham wrote in a statement to The Spectator. “They were both really fun and me feel at home at Seattle U.”

Homecoming Week is a time of community, of coming together to show school pride and being with one another. Following the COVID-19 quarantine, the week provided a renewed energy to collectively embody the Redhawk spirit. For the Seattle U community, it was a week that reflected exactly what the theme was—getting back to our future.