Homecoming Week 2021 kicks off on Sunday with 5K event

Nuha Abdessalam and Jazmine Grisby, Phoenix Staff Writers

Are you feeling the school spirit? We’re finally back on campus grounds after being away for 18 months, and   just in time for GSU’s Homecoming week celebrations. The Phoenix News has got you covered with the many upcoming festivities scheduled to attend.   

Homecoming week kicks off at 9 a.m. on Oct. 17 with the 2nd Annual Jaguars 5K Run, Walk, Roll, which starts at the Main Entrance. It is the first of that day’s three events that will set the tone for the week. 

The Chicago Southland International Film Festival Awards Show (F1622 Theatre, 3 p.m.) and the Celebration of Gospel Homecoming Concert (Center for Performing Arts, 4 p.m.) will wrap Day 1 of an activity-filled week. 

The rest of the week is filled with pep rallies, balls, comedy shows, and activities designed to engage and entertain everybody involved with GSU. Be sure to check the university’s site for any changes to the schedule. 

Last year’s Homecoming was a success despite having to be virtual due to the pandemic, but this year’s celebration week should bring an even bigger gathering.  

Konya Sledge, Assistant Director of Campus Programs & Traditions, said: “This year’s theme was specific in selecting, with COVID. We are Jaguars; we are resilient, we are stronger.”    

GSU’s Homecoming theme is “COMING BACK STRONGER.” Dr. Robert Clay, Executive Director for The Center for Student Engagement & Intercultural Programs, said: “Coming Back Stronger” to encourage all students, faculty, staff and even alumni to celebrate our return home and express our Jaguar Pride even more.  

“There is a robust schedule of events taking place the reflects the diversity of our campus community to ensure there’s something for all to participate in and enjoy. It is my hope Homecoming continues to grow and remain one of the many opportune times to build connections with fellow Jaguars we don’t know and reconnect with those we have missed.”  

GSU Alumni Association is sponsoring the Jaguar’s second annual 5k. “This year, we are excited to bring everyone back to campus for this event that promotes good health in an inclusive way,” said Will Davis, VP of Institutional Advancement.  

Center for Student Engagement and Intercultural Programs (CSEIP) and the Counseling and Wellness Center have worked hard to prepare events for the upcoming week,  including practicing efficiency concerning COVID-19.  

“We’re back together, better than ever,”” said Ms. Sledge. “We are absolutely adhering to all CDC guidelines, the university events office ensures we are following all protocols for CDC guidelines, including room capacity, (we) cut the capacity in half, so we’re aware on our website what rooms can hold a safe amount of people while adhering to the guidelines. 

“If numbers increase for a particular event, we may have to flip to a virtual event, we are following the CDC guidelines strictly, and that means all events are mask-mandated indoor and outdoor events.”  

While GSU does not have established Homecoming traditions, Sledge pointed out “The Jaguar Rock is a newly added feature to campus, by the GSU lake. We hope to incorporate the Jaguar Rock being a tradition for students to touch before graduation.”  

Homecoming Celebration Of Gospel event is one to mark on your calendars, Konya said. “So many … national and local artists will be performing, including Vickie Winans, The Chicago Mass Choir, and many other great artists to watch.” Tickets can be found here. 

This Homecoming week will offer everyone a time to celebrate and show appreciation to GSU, the people, including staff, faculty, and students who make up GSU, and join new people that share a bond and association for the university.