Behind the scenes: Preparing for Homecoming

By Brianna Willis, Assistant Features Editor

Homecoming every year is full of fall fun, fanfare and camaraderie. However, behind the scenes, there are a lot of preparations. Clint Combs, president of the Student Government Association, said the goal of homecoming is to reminisce and have fun.

“It’s like a second Christmas,” he said. “It’s a big deal. Really, it’s an opportunity for our alumni to come back, for our students to meet and engage with alumni.”

This year’s Homecoming is filled with history, as it is the 90th  anniversary of the first graduating class as well as the 80th anniversary of the SGA on campus. For alumni and students, this Homecoming will be historic.

Matt Turley, Homecoming chairman for the Campus Activity Board, said there are alumni who go as far as to plan their entire year around Homecoming.

“It really brings everyone at Murray State together,” Turley said.

In order to make Homecoming a special event, there are a lot of moving parts that different people are responsible for. For example, everyone on SGA is required to work at the parade on Homecoming. Combs said when he was a senator, he and Nathan Payne, current executive vice president of SGA, had one of their first interactions lining up floats one year for the Homecoming Parade. On the day of, the preparations begin early in the morning, Turley said.

“It’s a long day, but it’s a fun day,” Combs said.

The only aspect of Homecoming the committee isn’t responsible for is Tent City, Turley said. Otherwise, Turley said the committee is responsible for the Homecoming Parade as well as the Homecoming court selection.

For the Homecoming court, an important aspect of Homecoming for current students, nominations were due on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The applicants then go through an extensive interviewing process, Turley said. The seven selected judges who make the final decision on who to put in the top five king and queen candidates are comprised of faculty and staff from across campus. The final vote is then made by students in October.

Turley said this year they really tried to get a range of judges that truly represented the Murray State community.

“This year we got someone from the president’s office and athletics,” he said.

So what does it take to be on Homecoming court? The court is the top five applicants chosen by the selection committee. They are students who represent Murray State, and for the King and Queen, will for the rest of the year. Combs said that while high school Homecoming may have been a popularity contest for some, on a collegiate level, being on Homecoming court means being one of the best representatives of what it means to be a Murray State student.

“These are people who really, truly, embody the characteristics of Murray State,” he said. “People who are doing well academically, who are tremendously involved in the community and that will be respected by the campus.”

Combs said a lot of times people recognize the names on the ballot because they are so involved on campus, in the classroom and out of the classroom. Since 1978, Murray State has made student involvement a consideration when electing the Homecoming queen.

Jeanie Morgan, coordinator of Student Affairs, said Murray State made the decision to have the student body vote that year, so they could have candidates that came from a more diverse pool than previously, when it was just a committee.

“In 1978, the Student Government took that [student voting] on as a project,” she said. “They wanted a better representation of the student body.”

Morgan said 2001 was the first year the student body voted on Homecoming king.

“The student body has really become the driving force here,” Morgan said.

Turley said on the day of Homecoming, to see all the work pay off is a great feeling.

“I definitely think there’s something in the air when it hits Friday afternoon of Homecoming weekend,” Turley said. “It’s just so fun to get to meet people and to talk about how much Murray State has changed and how proud they are of it.”