Let’s talk homecoming

FAMU Homecoming game crowd. Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

Next to the Florida Classic, Homecoming is the most anticipated week of the college football season, here at Florida A&M University. It’s also safe to say thatit’s one of the most anticipated events in Florida.

This monumental celebration draws crowds from across the nation bringing students, alumni, faculty and fans together, to celebrate the pride of FAMU.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 homecoming celebration was canceled, leaving everyone who was looking forward to the festivities devastated.

Even though the U.S isn’t quite out of hot water with the pandemic, we all want to know if homecoming will be a go this year and what to expect.

FAMU’s Coordinator of Student Affairs, Joshlyn Thomas, says there will be a homecoming this year, but restrictions will apply.

“We are having homecoming and will definitely be following CDC guidelines,” Thomas said. “I am not sure how ‘normal’it will look compared to previous years, but we will package it as normal as possible. Our goal is to make sure everyone is aware of guidelines so that we can all have safe fun.”

Thomas also confirms the committee meetings for Homecoming 2021 will go forward this month, to ensure that the SGA vicepresident is involved in the planning.

It is too early to say whether or not the university will have major restrictions regarding non-FAMU attendees. Ciera McArthursays that restrictions may not be effective because of how high the anticipation is for homecoming this year.

“Everybody wants to be a Rattler, so of course they’re going to come celebrate with us,” McArthur said. “I just don’t see restrictions stopping the ‘lituation’ everybody has been waiting for.”

Health professionals who are at the forefront of administering COVID-19 vaccines on campus, feel that not enough of the population will be vaccinated in time for homecoming. Director of Health Services, Tanya Tatum, says more vaccines should be available in late summer; but, she doesn’t believe there will be a sufficient amount of uptake of the vaccine before homecoming.

“We will be able to do a lot more than last year, which was nothing, but there will need to be precautions put in place,” Tatum said. “We will still be asking individuals to wear masks and social distance and maybe limit the number of individuals in certain activities. I just don’t see it being a normal homecoming by this fall.”

Tatum is right about it not being a normal homecoming this year. Amid the coronavirus confusion, the FAMU football team will be making their debut in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) for the 2021 football season.

The conference change is a huge deal, allowing an old rivalry between FAMU and Grambling State University to be renewed, during homecoming. The two programs have not played one another since 2001 when the Tigers defeated the Rattlers in the Circle City Classic. The defeat left Grambling in the lead of the all-time series which is 10-5.

For the freshman on campus, who have yet to experience a FAMU Homecoming, this one wouldbe one for their college memories. For freshman psychology major,  Kayla Clary, the restrictions don’t matter, as long as she receives the full homecoming experience.

“I do think that things will be different this year, but a homecoming is much needed for traditional purposes,” Clary said.

This year’s homecoming is projected to take place during the week of October 25-31, with the game being on Saturday, Oct. 30.