Homecoming week gets underway

Elizabeth Wood, Staff Reporter

A 125th “Birthday Bash” for Eastern was held on Monday afternoon under the Martin Luther Jr. University Union overpass to kick off Homecoming Week.

Throughout the afternoon, homecoming committee members waved students over to their stand to sign up for a raffle and grab a cake pop.

Holly Olson, the homecoming committee chair and a junior business management major, said students will know the results of the raffle by the end of the week. She added the 125th Birthday Bash kicked off homecoming week, but there’s a lot of COVID-friendly homecoming events planned.

“We have a lot of virtual spirit challenges happening,” Olson said, “so if you follow and like our social media pages, you’ll be able to see all of those and enter to win things.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some past homecoming events had to be cancelled and students will have to sign up for events like cosmic bowling on Wednesday or for movie night on Saturday, where they would need time to sanitize between bowling groups or before and after movie night.

“It’s really sad that we might have to cut, you know, various events, such as, like I know our golf cart trivia was really popular last year,” Olson said, “but that wasn’t something we were able to do this year because of social distancing and COVID-19 protocols.”

Olson said she’s glad Eastern is able to have homecoming week still, despite COVID-19.

“We really wanted to keep it just because like it is a big celebration of the university,” Olson said, “we just thought it was really important, it gives students something to do.”

Unfortunately, with the beginning of homecoming, memories of homecoming past are bittersweet.

Keagan Fox, a sophomore biological science major, said she misses hanging out with her friends.

“[I miss] being able to hang out close with my friends and take pictures without masks,” Fox said.

LuLu Shimonde, the coronation chairs elector and senior psychology major, said she misses the pep rally and being around people.

“I miss being around people, that’s what I miss,” Shimonde said. “I think that the opportunity to be in a group setting, around people, without wearing mask, that’s something I totally miss. Like I miss the sense of normalcy.”

Despite the bittersweet start to homecoming, most students agree that they are glad to have events where they can interact and meet other students.

Shimonde said she’s excited that homecoming is giving students a chance to get involved on campus.

“I think it’s giving people that go here something to do, something to look forward to,” Shimonde said, “I think with COVID it’s been really hard to get stuff planned and get stuff done, and I’ve heard people complain that its really boring on campus now, so I’m excited that we have something people can finally get involved in.”

Alexis Brown, a freshman majoring in communications disorders and sciences major, said she is looking forward to the activities on campus.

“I’m looking forward to all of the activities,” Brown said, “just because its my first year and I’ve heard so many good things.”

Jessica Nantes, a freshman music major, said she’s excited to see what happens during homecoming.

“I’m excited to see what kind of things they have planned,” Nantes said, “considering how things are right now with COVID.”

While many events had to be changed, Olson said she’s just happy campus is still open for the school year and that students can still celebrate homecoming.

“I’m really happy with my staff and it’s been great working with everyone on the different changes,” Olson said. “We’ve had to change everything around basically due to social distancing protocols and everything else, but, honestly, I’m personally just really thankful that we can be on campus and I really glad eastern I made the decision to reopen with the social distancing and masking protocols and everything in place.”

Students can sign up for homecoming events on Eastern’s homecoming page at  eiu.edu/homecoming/.


Elizabeth Wood can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].