For better or worse
By Lauren Hince
Flipping through old copies of College Days and Crimson, the pages are lined with black and white images of students drinking, talking and climbing greased poles. Homecoming has always been a part of Ripon’s tradition, but is it still important?
Amy Gerretsen, director of constituent engagement, argues homecoming is an important time of the year for parents, students and alumni to all connect.
“The big draw is the renovation at the Willmore and rejuvenated feel on campus. Even if someone graduated a few years ago, there have been a lot of changes on campus,” said Gerretsen.
Sharon Jackson, director of student life, agrees. She explains that she already has a lot of events planned for homecoming such as an escape room, a powder puff game and tons of prizes.
This homecoming’s focus will be the brand new Willmore Center. Many events, including a ribbon cutting ceremony and tailgate, will take place right outside its doors. The hope is that this new facility will also bring back new faces who have not typically participated in homecoming.
For Payton Blessing ’19, Ripon and its traditions have long been apart of her family. Blessing’s dad, uncles and other extended family members have been coming to Ripon for decades. Knowing what homecoming used to be, and what it is now has Blessing thinking.
“I think Ripon homecoming is historically a really awesome tradition. The parades, the photos of people just casually hanging out on campus; looking back in old yearbooks it’s obviously one of the student’s most beloved time of year. However, I think in recent years this has declined drastically,” says Blessing
She’s not wrong, homecoming used to contain traditions such as homecoming royalty, parades down Watson Street and roasting corn on Merriman lawn. Now, few students can name a single Ripon tradition.
“It just seems as though they try every year to program in these new events in order to instill new traditions. But they haven’t been sticking, which makes Homecoming seem artificial,” says Blessing
Blessing hopes this year’s homecoming will include less structured activities, and more time to catch-up with old friends. She adds, “I think students and alumni would feel more connected to each other and to this school if we stopped working [so] hard in our planning and took a step back.”
Despite her opinions, Blessing still plans to participate in homecoming festivities. She is hopeful that this year could be different.
For a complete look at what is planned for homecoming and family week see below.
Wednesday, October 4
Rec and Roll, 7:00 PM, Willmore Center
Opening of fall play: Vanya, and Sonia, and Masha, and Spike, 7:30 PM, Benstead Theatre
Thursday, October 5
Alumni Career Day Ninja Warrior, 11:00-1:00 PM, Lower-level S.N. Pickard Commons
Homecoming Rally Hour and Senior VIP Party, 7 PM, Roadhouse Pizza
Friday, October 6
Ripon Spirit Day and Prize Patrol
Ripon Live and SAO Present: Escape Room, 3-7 PM, Johnson Hall
Powder Puff Game: 5 PM, Sadoff Fields
Live music and beverages hosted by the alumni association, 8 PM, Bovay’s Study Bar and Mercantile
Saturday, October 7
Open gym, 8-10 AM, Willmore Center
Willmore Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, 10:30 AM, Willmore center
Homecoming Tailgate Picnic, 11 AM-12 PM, Lower Sadoff Fields
Greek Tailgate, 12:30 PM, Ingalls Field
Alumni Baseball Game, 11:30 AM, Francis Field
Redhawks Football vs. St. Norbert College, 1 PM, Ingalls Field
Fifth Quarter with live music and food truck, 4 PM, Bovay’s Study Bar and Mercantile
Alumni Swim Meet, 4 PM, Willmore Center
Ripon Live Presents: Backtrack, 7 PM, Great Hall