The week-long homecoming celebration will undergo changes compared to previous years with the goal to bring a more inclusive and affordable atmosphere to the festivities.
Homecoming will take place Oct. 6-12 and will feature several events throughout the week for students, alumni and the USF community.
In the past, the Homecoming Ball was famously known for the annual coronation of a homecoming king and queen. This year, as a way to bring more inclusivity to students, the titles were removed and two homecoming royalty will be crowned instead.
The Associate Director of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) Joshua Wilson said that removing the titles of king and queen will provide a more inclusive and open environment to all students.
“It’s our stance to provide opportunities and to be a university that’s as open as possible,” Wilson said. “A university, or I should say program, that is truly open to all students, no matter their race, ethnicity or religion.”
In addition to the Homecoming Ball, the kickoff and Stampede Comedy Show will also have major changes compared to years prior. Both events will be hosted at the Marshall Student Center (MSC) ballroom instead of the Yuengling Center in an effort to conserve funds.
According to Wilson, the money saved from hosting at the MSC ballroom will be used to fund other programs throughout the week.
The MSC ballroom can fit approximately 900-1000 people, according to Wilson. The event will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. In case the event reaches full capacity, an overflow room will be available for students who still want to attend the event.
The Stampede Comedy Show will take place on Oct. 7 and officially mark the beginning of the homecoming celebration, featuring stand-up comedian and actress Michelle Buteau.
“We’re not necessarily expecting too much of an overflow for that event. But we do want to be set up in the case that there is,” Wilson said.
The event is free for students that have RSVP’d for the event and they are allowed to bring one guest. The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show will start at 7:30 p.m.
This year will mark USF President Steve Currall’s first Homecoming since he took office July 1. As a way to celebrate, Currall will serve as Grand Marshal during the Running of the Bulls Parade, on Oct. 11.
According to Bill McCausland, vice president and executive director of the Alumni Association, Currall received the title as a way to honor his first year. As Grand Marshal, Currall will lead the parade and be the first figure to greet the crowd.
“Typically, parades have some type of recognized figure who leads the parade and that is an honorary position,” McCausland said. “We felt, given that this is President Curral’s first year here in his first Homecoming at USF, that it was more than appropriate to have him be the person that leads the parade.”
The Running of the Bulls Parade will take place on Oct. 11 and the previous start time has been altered. As a way to use more daylight, the parade will start earlier at 6:30 p.m. compared to 7:00 p.m. last year.
In addition to the Running of the Bulls Parade, Currall will attend the Kickoff and Stampede Comedy Show on Oct. 7, the Homecoming Ball on Oct. 9 and the Alumni Awards on Oct. 10.
Throughout the week-long festivities, the Alumni Association will also be hosting events to welcome back alumni.
The Welcome Home Party will take place on Oct. 11 and will be a pre-parade party featuring games, activities and a live performance by the Matt Winter Band. The event will start at 5 p.m. on the Gibbons Alumni Center front lawn.
Homecoming will be a week full of events and activities focused not only on students but on faculty and the USF community as well. With this year’s changes, McCausland hopes to create an inclusive event and continue to build the university’s momentum.
“We really have evolved over the years and we’re building on the previous years’ momentum,” McCausland said. “It continues to be an objective of all the folks involved in the planning for Homecoming to make it an inclusive event. That it is not only all of the Tampa campus, but also St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee as well.”
Additional reporting by Alyssa Stewart.