Importance of welcoming alumni on Hobo Day

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Importance of welcoming alumni on Hobo Day


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Homecoming is a unique celebration. The week reflects the values found within the societies of our high schools and universities. Named for the return of an institution’s alumni, it is important they become the center of attention of that celebration.

School spirit and nostalgia for the “good ol’ days” peaks, and this week allows alumni to reflect on their collegiate experience while waving and smiling to the current students in the parade.

It’s a bold display of school spirit. While it might congest traffic and contribute to the endless build-up of the liquor store’s lines, Hobo Day draws a connection between today’s and yesterday’s students.

Imagine, for instance, if Hobo Day didn’t exist, and that it was just like any other week: red-eyed, exhausted students trudging from class to class in the fall cold, fearing the state of their grades and collective futures, with nothing to look forward to but Thanksgiving break — if even that.

Imagine the opportunity passing by for some sort of shared experience; imagine missing the chance for some sort of mutual context shared by the entire student body, turning it into one cohesive identity.

Imagine, finally, that alumni felt no sense of welcoming at their alma mater, and that the only contact they get is the institution begging them for donations, and nothing else. They might be happy that their kids and grandchildren attend the same school they did, but there will be no way to bridge the gap between those generations.

They would feel that it was once their school, and now it’s their children’s. They would feel isolated from the place that had prepared them for the rest of their lives. They wouldn’t feel that they had a history here, just that this was an institution fulfilling a necessity. Their kids will attend and get their degrees, never to return.

That’s why Hobo Day is an important event, to both alumni and students, and that’s why school spirit is critical to a school’s success. It is not some kind of vacuous anthem to be cheered and eventually forgotten about.

It’s a memory in the making, an invitation and most importantly the common denominator between classes, ages and personal experience.

Without our homecoming week, our alumni would feel no connection to their education. Their sense of efficacy in South Dakota State’s future as an institution would drastically decline, and we would be without the lifeline of donations that keep our school alive.

Events such as One Day for State is a perfect representation of why our connections with our school’s supporters are vital to our experience in college. It has aided in funding important changes to our university and our experience as students. Whether it be a classroom or the new practice facility, donor money and support encompasses all aspects of our student experience.

So, when you’re at the parade, find someone that doesn’t look like they’re in college. Shake their hand. Make them feel welcome; because, for the first time in what might be a long time for some alumni, this week is for us and the school to care about them, rather than the other way around.

Benjamin Hummel is a political science major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]