October is homecoming time for most college students, and while I have friends that attended PWIs (predominantly White Institutes), and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) the presence of homecoming at the two is a question I’m always asked by both sides.
As a graduate of Norfolk State University (NSU), my homecoming experience is one I’ll always treasure because homecoming at an HBCU is similar to that of the black family reunion. It’s a time to catch up with friends and classmates you haven’t seen in a while and enjoy your time. I think the major difference between the two is at the Saturday football game. When I attended the tailgate and game at a PWI, I was taken aback when the tailgate ended just before kickoff whereas at a HBCU… it’s all about the tailgate! There’s food, drinks and entertainment – the chance to catch up with old classmates and college friends. While football is forever America’s sport: at the HBCU we go to the game for the halftime show, because nothing compares to the band (refer to Beyoncé’s 2018 Coachella performance).
I think it boils down to the campus cultures at the varying institutions. I feel as though NSU, and a lot of HBCUs in the country provide students with more than just a place to get your education: you grow up there, you develop life-long relationships with professors and administrators; there’s a sense of family on an HBCU campus. A few friends of mine who are graduates of a PWI, who’ve attended my homecomings have stated that there is a difference- from the Step shows, to the after parties. It also helps that most HBCUs are small, so literally everyone has a mutual friend, or ends up meeting each other. I know a few colleagues of mine who got their bachelor’s degrees from a PWI, then came to NSU for the graduate program and pointed out that their schools were so big that they didn’t have the ability to really connect with a lot of people.
The presence of black culture always transcends on campuses during homecoming week – alumni come back to see the campus, everyone gathers to just have fun, and I think there’s a little bit more freedom during events, and it’s literal planning that goes into attending an HBCU homecoming from your makeup to your shoes.
When I attended a PWI homecoming, I kind of felt out of place being there – and not because of the people, but the vibe felt more like that of a family member’s house that you don’t want to go to for the holiday, but have to so you aren’t rude. While some of the events were great and different, I didn’t feel like there was a sense of welcoming and home.
All in all, I think homecomings are ultimately about reconnecting and enjoying yourself, sharing in your successes since walking across the stage, and it’s about the culture and size of the institution. Those two elements definitely shape the vibe of homecoming between the two, and the overall college experience.
What about you? What has your homecoming experience been like?
By: Tyra Whitney
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments, opinions on this website are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of M-Lifestyle and their affiliates. M-Lifestyle does not claim ownership of any images used, unless otherwise specified.