This week, Southeastern Louisiana University celebrated its homecoming. Homecoming has become more than just one festivity. It is a week-long event that unifies students across campus with each other, with alumni and with the entire Lion Nation community.
Since there are multiple events that take weeks and months of planning, there is an incredible team of students within the Student Government Association that handle all of it. Other than the SGA President, Seth Leto, the executive branch houses the Director of Traditions, Hannah Fork. Fork oversees two major campus events, one each semester. In the spring, it is the Big Event, a community wide compilation of service projects performed by Southeastern students. In the fall semester, she oversees homecoming.
Fork said that she applied for the position of Director of Traditions back in the spring. From there, she got a Director and Assistant Director of Homecoming to work under her. “They came into play helping with the details and day-to-day. All the little tasks add up so much and it is way too much for one person. It would’ve been way too stressful for just me for sure.”
The Director of Homecoming this year was Summer Carter and the Assistant Director was Alec Jones. They are both active on campus and were contacted by Leto and other members of SGA over the summer. Jones said, “Seth and I worked together a lot on the Interfraternity Council, and he felt that I had the leadership skills and presence on campus to help this committee.” Carter had a similar experience. “I was called by Seth and the Chief of Staff, Neil Bourgeois, for the position in June. At first I wasn’t sure if I could handle it but after getting into the events, I truly saw how much I would fall in love with this position,” said Carter.
Jones and Carter had a difficult time explaining their job descriptions as there were so many different things to be done. The many tasks that had to be done included picking a theme, contacting downtown about decorating, creating a budget and getting it passed and approved, fill out all the necessary ROAs for each event, buying or reserving items needed for each event, creating the homecoming packet, staying in constant contact with people involved in the events whether it be the union staff, the Blood Drive bus, or the vendors and volunteers, and making sure every event had workers.
One of the more emotionally tolling tasks that they had to do both this week and in preparation for it was disassociate from their Greek chapters. Jones is the president of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and said that not only did he hate being away from his brothers, but it was hard for the chapter since there were so many decisions that he, as president, would have normally been involved in. Carter is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma and said that it was important to avoid them so as to make sure other participants did not feel she was picking favorites. She said that it was not as bad as she thought until their team would do well and she had to try to refrain from cheering them on. “I just wanted to scream and clap, but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to seem unfair or give them any leverage.”
Towards the end of this homecoming week, just when the dust should have started settling, SGA found themselves in the middle of athletic and administrative decisions regarding Hurricane Nate. Jones said, “There were many meetings on Thursday that required quick thinking and immediate reconfiguring. Having so many departments and executives involved was new but since the football game is the big finale of the week, the decisions had to include everyone’s best interest.” He continued that all of the new plans were made to keep students and fans safe, while still allowing all the organizations to benefit from their hard work.
Since homecoming game festivities were moved to the home football game on October 28, the parade and homecoming court presentations will take place then.
Carter said that homecoming has many benefits not only for students but for the whole community. “It brings the community together to celebrate Southeastern and all it has to offer. Homecoming helps students get involved even if they normally are not – it has so many events going on all week that it allows them to get out of their comfort zone and participate.” Jones said that the way the homecoming is set up is unique because smaller organizations can pick and choose what events they want to participate in. If they are not concerned with the overall scoring, they can still get involved in the individual events like the sheet sign competition, downtown decorating or lip sync. He was glad to see some first-time participants this year from other campus organizations.
Fork said that as Director of Traditions, she has had a great experience so far. “You meet so many people around campus and you get to feel really important because you have an impact in the students’ experience. It’s awesome to have all these ideas for Homecoming and then see it come to life.”
Carter said, “I would say that out of all the leadership positions I’ve held on this campus, this was the most challenging, but the most rewarding. I have learned so much about this campus and about how to be a leader. I’ve learned the importance of planning and making sure things stay on task.” She said that she encourages others to seek out this position if they have a love for our campus since homecoming is the best way to show it off. Jones added that if you have ideas, this is the way to represent and change things that didn’t work for you or your organization in the past. But best of all, he said seeing the final product and the students’ satisfaction made it all worth it.