Homecoming theme stirs controversy

Corryn Brock, News Editor

Some Eastern students and alumni have shared concern about this year’s “Party Like it’s 1895” Homecoming theme.

Those who have expressed dissent have said that the time period referenced in the theme was one that oppressed minority groups and felt it was insensitive to the current climate in the country.

Eastern released a statement explaining the choice of theme:

“EIU’s 1895 Homecoming theme is a reference to the year in which EIU was founded. Its use in EIU’s Homecoming week events is intended to commemorate that historical occasion. The theme was selected for use last spring following a period of public input and a variety of EIU stakeholder contributions, including those from a diversified student steering committee.”

Josh Reinhart, Eastern’s public information coordinator, said the decision for the theme was based chosen prior to the pandemic and its limitations on public gatherings.

Some have expressed they felt the theme was not well planned.

Marcus Powell, a senior political science major, said the name could have been changed and still held the same sentiment the university was looking for.

“I just think it wasn’t thought through. The reason I say this is because the slogan itself just brings us to a time we don’t want to remember,” Powell said. “The slogan could’ve said something simple as in let’s celebrate the 125 years something simple as in that.”

David Groves, a 2014 Eastern alum and 2013 Homecoming King, said he felt it could make students feel excluded.

“The theme lacks execution. I can see what the intent was in regards to EIU celebrating 125 years but the delivery was not inclusive of all students. As a Black man, and an alumnus of EIU, I have to ask myself … would I want to Party like it is 1895 at EIU,” Groves said. “Absolutely not.”

“Honestly, it’s hard at times to party like it’s 2020 being that we are still facing similar battles today. Although we are able to now attend “party together” as one, there is still a divide within our country and even more in Charleston Illinois as many can witness within the comments every time students today take a stand for injustice.”

Groves said he felt for students whose student fees have towards the theme.

Morgan Colvin, a graduate student studying political science, said she believes the problem is in administration.

“There is a lack of consideration for minority students, but a push to have them on campus. There is a specific person in these offices that have contributed to ideas like this for a long time; this person shows no care when Black students point out problems like this. When we tried to hang the BLM flag, this person called us reactionary and sided with Student Government members, who refused to learn about BLM. This person hardly sides with Black students, and Black students know this person. There is a person on campus who is over Student Life but refuses to acknowledge us as Black people and as Black students. This person needs to be replaced,” Colvin said. “That is the issue.”

Corinthian Bethel, a 2016 Eastern alum, said he wanted to know the full story behind the choice of homecoming theme.

“As an alumni, and former Homecoming Committee member, I am extremely shocked and surprised. I am curious to know the true meaning of the theme. My true thoughts are thinking of the time period 1895, in which I know for sure it didn’t include African Americans during that time period…which is my concern for Minority students doing homecoming week,” Bethel said. “Does this include Minority students since we are partying like ‘1895?’”

He added believes the theme should be changed and in the future students should be polled on a list of potential themes.

Powell said he hopes the this gives the university the opportunity to reflect and analyze.

Groves said he does not think there will be time to change the theme, but echoed that the university should review the theme and the views on in.

“With homecoming coming around the corner and the order to Gavina is probably in for all homecoming merchandise. it would be tough to do my ultimate recommendation. However, as a university, the question must become ‘where did we go wrong,’” Groves said. “There should be an action plan in place to not only educate students but staff as a whole on why the theme is an issue.”

He added that the university should have more dialogue with students and that students should get involved so they are a part of decision making.

Colvin said new people need to be involved student programming.

Editor’s Note: The Daily Eastern News will be reaching out to the 2020 Homecoming Committee and Student Life Office officials for comment regarding the theme and comments made in this article.

 

Corryn Brock can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]