Homecoming, past and present

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.


Homecoming Schedule

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