homecoming week
Graphic provided by MU

Homecoming From the Comfort of Home

James Walsh

For years at Manchester University, Homecoming Week has welcomed alums back to campus. However, under the harsh realities of the pandemic, organizers have had to creative in dealing with the restrictions that COVID-19 presents. Kylee Moss and her team at the Office of Alumni Relations have been working hard to engage alumni from miles—and states—away from the university.

This year Homecoming has been making good use of Zoom and Facebook Live; utilizing these platforms allows alums from all over the country to participate in events and reunite with their former classmates. Moss doesn’t anticipate any problems. “ I’m hoping that since we’ve kind of developed this as our new norm, that it’s more familiar,” she said. “However, we do have a backup plan, if people do have concerns, they can call the alumni office, and we can walk them through it.”

Indeed, Moss remains optimistic for the benefits that an all-online Homecoming may offer alumni. “When it’s on campus it’s very organic, so what I’m looking forward to in this virtual space is just learning this new norm,” she said. “I think it’s really cool that we’re engaging with people [who live too far to travel to MU] we normally wouldn’t engage with.”

Alumni watching from home certainly have plenty to look forward to, as Moss and the rest of the Homecoming organizers have planned numerous events that welcome former students back to Manchester. “I put together this homecoming, thinking of me as an alumna and my husband as an alumnus, and really tried to zone in each different kind of group,” Moss said.

Events focus on specific areas of study. For instance, on Tuesday at eight a.m, the dean of Arts and Sciences, Judd Case, hosted a coffee hour on Facebook Live. This kind of format could be seen throughout the week, each focusing on a different academic major, including the previously absent Pharmacy program. In addition to the standard academic groups, an event remembering the Kent State protests will also be held on Friday morning, bringing in a different crowd than the rest of the events throughout the week. In addition, various unique events and class reunions, fill out the week’s schedule.

Some may find concern in the constantly changing venue between Facebook Live and Zoom. Why not focus on one specific source of video in order to reduce potential confusion? “ I posted the Zoom information on Facebook and got a lot of people that weren’t alumni, and it’s hard to monitor people though Zoom,” Moss said. “So we said moving forward all registration will be through our page and we will send you a link. Meanwhile, Facebook gives people a better chance to view it in that saved library”

Homecoming at its core will remain the same, with the primary goal to bring the students of the past closer together. “Homecoming makes me happy; it is my favorite event,” Moss said. “Just seeing people engaged with this new platform, and still trying to connect with the university despite all of the craziness around us, just makes me happy.”