Giving NU some purple pride

Elise Foley

By Elise Foley

The Daily Northwestern

Dig those purple clothes out of your drawers: It’s Homecoming Week.

The weeklong event honors Northwestern and its alumni, culminating in Saturday’s football game against the University of Minnesota. The goal of this year’s Homecoming is to encourage NU pride, said Nate West, co-chairman of the Homecoming Committee.

“(Pride is) something that’s kind of lacking on our campus, and we’re working to change that,” the Weinberg junior said. “If we can get that school spirit instilled in the beginning, it can last through the whole year.”

The 20-member committee started planning Homecoming Week during Spring Quarter, after the Alumni Association appointed West and his co-chairwoman, Jenny Cota. The co-chairs chose their committee through an application process around Spring Break.

The theme for this year’s Homecoming is “Born to be Wild.” Cota, a Weinberg junior, said it was chosen as both an allusion to NU’s mascot, the wildcat, and to emphasize this year’s focus on history with the “throwback” 1968 song.

“If you know a history of something, it’s a little bit easier to have pride in your institution,” West said.

Students can answer NU trivia questions online for chance to ride on the Grand Marshal’s float at Friday’s parade. Five students who answer the questions correctly will be chosen to ride the float with Grand Marshal Clinton Kelly, who received his master’s degree from Medill in 1993 and hosts The Learning Channel’s “What Not to Wear.”

But the trivia doesn’t stop there. Students can also compete in NU-themed Dance Marathon Homecoming Jeopardy on Wednesday.

Many ideas for the events came from mirroring other Big Ten schools’ Homecoming celebrations. For instance, Cota and other Homecoming committee members traveled to the University of Wisconsin to see its Homecoming event last Winter Quarter, she said.

“Wisconsin is really known for their Homecoming, so we’re trying to make our Homecoming more like theirs,” she said. “They only have a few events during the week, but it’s a lot bigger.”

There will be one large event per night, including Tuesday’s Entertainment Extravaganza and Thursday’s Pie-Eating Contest. This past weekend’s events included Paint the Town Purple, where students painted local shop windows; CSI Make a Difference Day, an off-campus volunteer event; and Big Bite Nite, where students sampled food from Evanston restaurants.

A new feature this year will be fireworks on Friday after the pep rally and parade, West said.

The week is primarily funded by the Alumni Association, but the Center for Student Involvement, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life and other campus groups also help fund activities, West said.

Coordinating next year’s Homecoming will begin soon. Although plans for Homecoming 2007 began in March, Cota said the Homecoming Committee will begin planning next year’s event in November.

“We want Homecoming to be even bigger and better than it has been,” she said. “This year it will be bigger than last year, and next year we want it to be even bigger.

Reach Elise Foley at [email protected]