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No Homecoming for the Eagles

Orle+Brown+and+James+Christensen%2C+center%2C+members+of+Phi+Sigma+Epsilon%2C+hang+the+lantern+from+Main+Hall+for+the+1968+Homecoming+festivities.+The+lantern+burned+throughout+the+weekend.
Orle Brown and James Christensen, center, members of Phi Sigma Epsilon, hang the lantern from Main Hall for the 1968 Homecoming festivities. The lantern burned throughout the weekend.

Orle Brown and James Christensen, center, members of Phi Sigma Epsilon, hang the lantern from Main Hall for the 1968 Homecoming festivities. The lantern burned throughout the weekend.

Photo courtesy of UW-L Murphy Library.

Photo courtesy of UW-L Murphy Library.

Orle Brown and James Christensen, center, members of Phi Sigma Epsilon, hang the lantern from Main Hall for the 1968 Homecoming festivities. The lantern burned throughout the weekend.

Emily Markham, Multimedia Editor

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One weekend I was visiting home my freshman year happened to be the same weekend as UW-Whitewater’s homecoming. My mom was asking me if I wanted to go to the parade with her, and then she asked when La Crosse’s homecoming was. I was stumped. I tried to remember if I had heard anything about it on campus, but nothing came to mind. I assumed that maybe we just didn’t make a big deal about it or it hadn’t happened yet, but the truth is La Crosse doesn’t have a homecoming. 

“Oktoberfest seemed to be the true homecoming,” said Michael Slevin, Assistant Director of University Centers, about why La Crosse no longer has a homecoming. He continued on to explain, “There are only so many home football games, and with Oktoberfest they’d be back in one or two weeks anyway.” 

It’s not from lack of trying that homecoming has ceased happening. Janie Morgan, Executive Director of the Alumni Association, explained many of the events and activities they tried to keep homecoming alive, “We created a student organization to get students involved. We had pep fests. We had parades except none of the students came out of the res halls to support their fellow students.” 

Another hurdle to homecoming was family weekend. Family weekend is usually one to two weeks after Oktoberfest, so it makes planning three events all around the same time difficult. Morgan said, “We combined homecoming and family weekend and that didn’t work either.”    

2006 was the last year UWL tried having a homecoming. Although homecoming ended, some of its traditions have continued on, even if they are a bit different now than what they used to be. “Two of them we still maintain. Two 80-year-old traditions. The first one is the lighting of the L,” said Morgan. The lighting used to be done on the first home evening football game, but now the L is put on the bluffs the first week of school to welcome students back. The L can also be found at the Rotary Lights every winter.  

“The other tradition we retain is the hanging of the lantern,” Morgan commented. In the past one student was chosen to hang the lantern from the roof of Graff Main Hall, but in 1997 the lantern was permanently moved to the Hoeschler Clock Tower (uwlax.edu). Morgan explains the significance of the lantern to the returning alumni, “The lantern is always on. You’re always welcomed home.”  

Although I understand why La Crosse no longer has a homecoming, and that even without it we still uphold some of the traditions and hold reunion weekends for the alumni, I still think it would be nice to give it a go one more time. I remember how excited people were in high school during homecoming week—school spirit was high and everyone came together to make the week fun and memorable. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to have that experience in college too. Family weekend and Oktoberfest are great, but they’re not homecoming. So what do you say UWL, should we bring homecoming back?

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No Homecoming for the Eagles