Homecoming aims to increase school spirit
Hidden in the furthest corner of the University Center and deep within the UH traditions office, the Homecoming Board is hard at work increasing school spirit to get Coogs, young and old, red all over.
The Homecoming Board has prepared a full week of events leading up to the home game Saturday. One of the biggest and most anticipated events of the week is the Homecoming Block Party and the Residence Hall Association Beauty Bowl at 4 p.m. Thursday at Lynn Eusan Park in front of Cougar Village I and II.
Assistant Director of Spirit for Homecoming and education junior Hugo Basurto has been working all semester to plan events for Homecoming week and said he can’t wait to see Cougars showing off their school pride and getting pumped up for the big game.
“I think the pep rally brings so much hype to the University. The biggest pep rally the school has is during Homecoming week,” Basurto said. “The mascot comes out, the coach comes out, football players and cheerleaders will be there. It really lights up the week.”
The Homecoming Block Party will be hosted by several student organizations, including the Latin Greeks, RHO, RHA and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
“We will have live music. The fraternities and sororities will have carnival booth games and will be giving out sunglasses, shirts, hats and cups,” Basurto said. “This is the second year for the block party, and it’s going to be huge. Last year, we had more than 1,000 people, and this year we are expecting more.”
For Samantha Wong, an advertising senior and station director for Coog Radio, the block party is a great chance for students to experience college life.
“I’m excited for (the) block party. It’s just a chance to get involved, be aware of what’s going on around campus, have fun and kind of bring in the excitement and hype for the Homecoming game. It’s the pre-party, I would say.”
Student organizations like Student Program Board, Coog Radio, Residence Hall Association and the Center for Student Involvement will come together for the block party. Students can listen to live performers and play trivia games to earn prizes and participate in the Beauty Bowl by earning points for their residence hall. The hall with the most points will be crowned winner in the competition.
For communications junior Hunter Lewis, who is volunteering for Homecoming and is also a chairman for Frontier Fiesta, the block party is a great way of acknowledging the University’s position as the second-most diverse college in the country, according to Forbes’ ranking.
“I think block parties are really cool. It’s not necessarily something that’s unique to the University of Houston, but I think the celebration itself is very unique. It’s very enforcing of community and entertainment,” Lewis said. “Especially considering the amount of diversity that our school has, it’s a great way to celebrate that diversity through the coming together of different student organizations (and) different students around campus. It’s a really good time for us to celebrate that in a very grand way, and I think a lot of people really enjoy it.”
Homecoming Board will be giving out free “swag” like sunglasses and hats to keep Cougars comfortable while they’re outdoors having fun in the sun. Along with games like a cupcake walk and an Instagram Challenge, there will also be free face painting, food and drinks.
Director of Marketing for Homecoming Board Shining Wang, a hotel and restaurant management and Chinese studies junior, expects this year’s block party attendance to be around 2,000. She looks forward to getting the party started.
“I tell freshmen, ‘You get to experience Homecoming in high school, but this is a university and it’s on such a bigger scale, so it’s really cool.’ We have lots of different events every day going on,” Wang said. “It’s really fun, and one of the reasons I joined Homecoming is that I wanted to be involved. This is the time on campus when we’re red all over.”
For the first time, one of the oldest traditions on campus will also coincide with Family Weekend, potentially making this the biggest Homecoming week and block party the University has ever experienced.
“It’s part of the college experience: you meet people, you make new friends and you make memories. And in doing so, you can also discover something about yourself that you never knew,” Wong said.