Homecoming Week brings fun, food, friends


Courtesy Photo

This years’s Homecoming theme is ‘Panthers Awaken,’ after the most recent entry in the Star Wars saga.


Homecoming 2017 has arrived at UNI. Throughout this week, students will have the opportunity to participate in numerous on-campus events as a way to celebrate their school spirit with their fellow Panthers.

This year’s Homecoming theme has been dubbed “Panthers Awaken,” after the most recent entry in the Star Wars saga.

While UNI’s Homecoming royalty competition was held this past Thursday, the majority of UNI’s longstanding homecoming traditions will take place this week, starting with the Kick-Off event on Lawther Field tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Kick-Off is the first Pride Cry event. Each Pride Cry team — which represents a different student organization — has three minutes to perform a routine.

“They have to include the [Panthers Awaken] theme; they have to include the UNI fight song,” said Ashley Adams, the campus programs coordinator at Student Life. “And those are the only restrictions we give them.”

Three teams will be selected as finalists. In addition, the Homecoming king and queen will be announced at tonight’s Kick-Off. UNI President Mark Nook, along with Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) President Jamal White and NISG Vice President Tristan Bernhard will also speak during the event.

New to this year’s Kick-Off will be live comedy by comedian Pete Lee, who is emceeing.

Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., judging will take place for the Office Decorating Competition across campus. Members of the University Homecoming Committee judge the participants in part on the incorporation of this year’s theme.

“[W]e’ve had everything from a skit [. . .] to some awesome decorations,” Adams said. “Some offices have food. It’s really, really fun to watch.”

In keeping with the “Panthers Awaken” theme, this year’s outdoor movie will be “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Students can watch the movie on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Lawther Field (or in the case of rain, at Maucker Union Ballroom). Popcorn will be provided.

Wednesday’s picnic features walking tacos — a change from the typical hotdogs and hamburgers. Food will be available on the Campanile Plaza (or at Maucker Union, if there is rain) starting at 11 a.m. and until supplies run out. There will be inflatables, spray-on tattoo artists, balloon animals, games, giveaways and a DJ.

On Wednesday will be the Amazing Race Traditions Challenge. For this event, students must have registered their teams ahead of time to participate. It will be held at 5:30 p.m. on the Maucker Union Roof Plaza.

“I believe [teams] have six stops,” Adams said. “They complete six pieces of their traditions challenge. And if you complete the traditions challenges [. . .] you can get a pin or a medal for graduation.”

On Thursday, a Homecoming Special Dinner will be served at the Piazza and Rialto dining centers from 5 to 6:45 p.m. Students can expect homecoming-themed foods and decorations.

The Welcome Back Bash for alumni will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday night at the Alumni Plaza. In addition to the meal, there will be live music.

Friday’s pep rally will be held at the West Gym. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the event starts at 7:30.  This is a location change from previous years at the McLeod center.

“We moved it to the West Gym, so it will seem fuller,” said Daniel Brunscheen, an executive member of the Campus Activities Board (CAB). “[W]hen we’d have it in the McLeod Center [. . .] everyone only occupies a fourth of the seating. But in the West Gym, we hope to have it packed.”

At the pep rally, the three Pride Cry finalists will compete. After judging, the winning team will receive money from CAB for their student organization.

UNI sport teams that are not traveling will be present at the pep rally, and comedian Pete Lee will once again be emceeing. The first 500 students who arrive will receive rally towels.

Later Friday night, students can gather by the Campanile for a midnight kiss during Homecoming. This UNI classic is dubbed “Campaniling.”

“For freshmen, you don’t have to have a date,” Brunscheen said. “Just go, politely ask someone if they want to Campanile with you. If they say ‘no,’ politely move on and try your luck somewhere else.”

On Saturday at 8 a.m., the Panther Pacers Homecoming 5K will take place. This will be at the UNI Intramural fields, which are west of the UNI-Dome.

Students must register to participate in this event — either in advance online or on race day.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, the Homecoming Parade will take place on College and 23rd Street. Unlike most colleges, UNI’s Homecoming parade is a golf cart parade.

“Our student organizations decorate their golf carts,” Adams said. “We have, I wanna say, 70-plus student organizations. Some of them are handing out candy; some of them are handing out some other things. Our grand marshal is going to be President Nook and his wife, Cheryl.”

Alumni can enjoy a discounted price for another Homecoming-themed meal at the dining centers — this time during lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. There will also be tailgating west of the UNI-Dome from 12:30 to 3 p.m.

The grand finale of Homecoming will be Saturday at 4 p.m., as UNI football goes up against Western Illinois at the UNI-Dome.

“[If] you’ve never been to a football game, having students at football games — at any sporting event — cheering on your peers is important, because it encourages them. It adds to the environment,” Adams said. “Encourage your friends to go, because the crowd is what brings that into the game.”