Homecoming week goes virtual, cutting costs, concert

With the transition to an online homecoming and the Homecoming Concert being canceled, the Center for Student Involvement will be spending nearly $200,000 less on homecoming activities than last year. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USFHOMECOMING

Not even COVID-19 got in the way of USF celebrating its annual homecoming festivities, and this year there are still plenty of virtual events planned for the week ahead.

While most events shifted to virtual platforms, the most awaited event —  the annual Homecoming Concert — will not take place this year, according to Joshua Wilson, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI).

Wilson said having the concert online was “not worth the money.” The event would cost between $40,000 and $60,000 and would feature a 20-minute performance. Last year, the Homecoming Concert cost $124,472 and featured the rapper Gunna as the headliner and the up-and-coming rapper Bryce Vine as the opener.

“We did learn that students were interested in a virtual experience. However, as we’re working with the agencies and looking at some of the students’ top choices, we learned that the virtual concert experience was not worth the money to spend,” Wilson said.

“With the way that they’re doing a lot of the virtual shows, essentially, we’d be paying for a small amount of time with the artist and still lots of money compared to an in-person concert experience.”

The students’ top three choices came down to Jason Derulo, Kehlani and Fetty Wap.

On the bright side, Wilson said that the money “saved” from the Homecoming Concert will potentially be used in the spring semester, depending on USF’s safety protocols at that time.

Without its biggest event, CSI still managed to organize a week full of virtual events to bring the community together and celebrate homecoming — even from the comfort of their homes.

With all events being hosted online, this year’s homecoming will have a lower price tag than prior years. The CSI homecoming budget for this year is $221,252, but CSI will only be spending around $38,075 to fund events throughout the week, according to Campus Activities Board (CAB) Coordinator Alexis Fuentes. Last year, the homecoming festivities cost around $234,739.

The Homecoming Kickoff will be hosted on Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. through Microsoft Teams and will feature speeches by Student Body President and Vice President Claire Mitchell and Gustavo Spangher, USF President Steven Currall, Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly and Chairman of the Homecoming Steering Committee and Executive Director of the Alumni Center Bill McCausland.

The event will also feature prerecorded performances by the Herd of Thunder, USF Cheer and the Sun Dolls, according to Fuentes.

“[The video] just gave me chills because it is so good,” he said. “I’m really excited that we were able to still showcase them just because, in the past, that’s a tradition students really look forward to seeing those performances live. So we’re really happy that we would continue this tradition in a virtual setting.”

Following the Kickoff, students will get to watch the Stampede Comedy Show featuring the YouTuber Cody Kolodziejzyk. With a $17,500 price tag, the event will be hosted live on Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. through Microsoft Teams.

Originally, the event would be limited to 250 people on a first-come, first-serve basis, however, due to its high demand, Wilson said CSI is working with IT to allow a larger capacity for the event.

“We’re planning to drop on Monday the fact that there will be more than 250 students that can attend, but we’re just waiting to triple check that everything is going to work appropriately. But we’re like 95% sure that more than 250 people will be able to attend,” Wilson said.

Replacing the traditional field-day team competitions, this year’s Teams Tuesday will feature an esports competition through the mobile game “Among Us” where students will compete for a chance to win the Homecoming Team Competition. Compared to last year’s price tag of $1,071, this year’s Teams Tuesday will cost CSI nothing.

“Among Us” is an online sci-fi murder-mystery game set in a spaceship, consisting of a group of crew members with impostors among them. The task students will face is to find out who the impostors are before they sabotage the spaceship.

Students must submit their scores by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 6 to be considered for Teams Tuesday. The deadline to sign up was Friday and students could register as an individual or with friends.

Other events will also be available throughout the week that will count for the Homecoming Team Competitions. There will be a week-long TurboVote competition to motivate students to register to vote through the Green and Gold Scavenger Rush on Oct. 6 and the Navigating Down the Ballot workshop on Oct. 7. The winning team with the highest number of points accumulated throughout the week will be announced on the (CAB)’s social media on Oct. 9.

Without having its traditional Homecoming Ball in person, CSI will be hosting a virtual interactive game show to celebrate this year’s homecoming royalty. The event will cost $8,400 and will be hosted on Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. through Microsoft Teams.

From 7:30-8 p.m., Currall will give his remarks and the homecoming royalty for all three campuses will be announced. Then from 8-10 p.m., students will get to participate in a musical trivia dance party to simulate last year’s ball.

Homecoming week is also featuring a new event called “Home Sweet Homecoming.” Hosted by USF Libraries, the event will take place on Oct. 8 from 6-7 p.m. through Microsoft Teams and will feature a digital exhibition of the history behind USF and homecoming.

The event will also include a presentation from librarians Barbara Lewis and Andrew Huse discussing the exhibition.

The week of events will come to an end with the annual Homecoming Carni-Bull on Oct. 9 at 4:30 p.m. While students won’t get to eat funnel cake or visit different rides, CSI will be hosting its annual carnival through the immersive virtual platform Degy World. The event will cost CSI $12,175 and will feature virtual games, prizes and live entertainment. Students must preregister to attend the event.

Students will also get to cheer on the Bulls as they play East Carolina on Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. Students can claim their tickets starting Oct. 5 and will need to follow strict regulations once in the stadium, including wearing face coverings at all times.