Story by Gisselle Hernandez, Assistant Features Editor
The Murray State Alumni Association and the Student Government Association are hosting a contest whereby students, faculty and alumni may submit ideas for next year’s Homecoming theme.
The submission contest was launched on Nov. 20 and closes on Monday, allowing students, faculty and alumni to submit themes sprung from their own creativity, as there is no strict prompt or criteria other than it being inoffensive and all-inclusive. This is the first time in five years that the process of choosing the Homecoming theme has been done using a submission contest.
The contest, which is open to the entire university community, does not have a set prompt, yet Mark Welch, director of Community Relations and Alumni Affairs, said the coordinating organizations are mostly looking for creative ideas that reflect the values of Murray State.
“I think we’d also like it to have a fun and whimsical element to it,” he said.
The theme for Homecoming 2015, “Raise your S.H.I.E.L.D,” was chosen by the Homecoming committee, and while themes have always proven to have been successful in the past, a contest is a sure way to gain student involvement, said Jeanie Morgan, adviser of the SGA and student organizations on campus.
Homecoming, which is mostly considered an alumni event hosted by the SGA, Murray State Alumni Association and Racer Athletics, has been pushed back to the last weekend of October 2016 in order to give organizations more time to prepare. With events such as Family Weekend and Fall Break filling up students’ time, it leaves less time for students to meet with their organizations to discuss Homecoming, Morgan said.
Early preparation for conducting one of the university’s major events led to the choosing of the Homecoming theme from the year before, as opposed to the previous year where the 2015 superhero theme was decided in February. Welch said planning early is key to minimize issues when the time comes.
“We are hoping our students will submit some [creative ideas] even though Homecoming seems to be far away,” he said. “Even though Homecoming is a couple of weeks later than normal, it’s upon us pretty quickly after we begin the fall semester.”
Planning begins almost as soon as the previous Homecoming is over. Katie Payne, Associate Director of Alumni Affairs, said discussions need to began as early as possible to engage students while they are on campus rather than in the summer when they are back home, giving no feedback to contests occurring at Murray State.
Despite the chance of students being too busy studying for finals during the last weeks of school to submit a theme, Payne is confident it should not pose a problem.
“We made sure to set the deadline the Monday of finals,” she said. “Hoping maybe while people are kind of the middle of that finals-caffeine-excitement they will have a creative burst of energy and submit an idea.”
Nine theme ideas have already been submitted as of Monday, with submissions being received across the board, including student, faculty and alumni alike. The Homecoming committee begins judging after the deadline of Dec. 7, and narrows potential winners to a select few. The initial plan is to allow the entire student body to vote during Spring elections on the select few and choose a winner. The winner is to be announced in the Spring, with the prize being the honor of having one’s theme chosen for the massive event that welcomes alumni back “home.”
Interested participants can submit their theme before Dec. 7 at www.raceralumni.com/hc2016.