College's Homecoming unique among Ivies

by Phil Salinger | 10/29/04 5:00am

At Dartmouth, students start looking forward to the Homecoming bonfire, parties and football game at the beginning of Fall term, and freshmen eagerly await the Freshman Sweep and other festivities on the Friday night of Homecoming. However, at many other schools, especially Ivy League schools, homecoming does not hold the same significance.

Most schools have a homecoming weekend, which generally includes a big football game and some alumni events, but students do not seem to anticipate it with the same enthusiasm that they do at Dartmouth.

"There weren't many parties around here that weekend," Cornell student Nicholas McBurney said. "We had the traditional homecoming football game. It was a pretty standard homecoming as I understand it."

Brown has a full day of scheduled activities, but they consist of sporting events and alumni functions, with very little extra for students.

Many schools view homecoming as a celebration for alumni, rather than a freshman reception as Dartmouth does. Homecoming at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, for example, is merely an opportunity to have a big football game and welcome back alumni.

Columbia's homecoming, however, does have unique characteristics important to students.

"Ludy Bowl," the most anticipated of these events, pits the sophomores and juniors against the freshmen and seniors in a football game. Columbia also holds a "spirit fest" on the Thursday before homecoming and a pep rally on Friday.

The University of Pennsylvania also has an extravagant homecoming, but it focuses almost exclusively on alumni. This year, Penn inaugurated its new president, Amy Gutmann, on homecoming and held a host of events to celebrate different aspects of the college with the returning alumni.

Although other Ivy League homecomings might be bland compared to Dartmouth standards, homecoming at many non-Ivy schools is characterized by wild celebration.

Williams College's homecoming is festive, but lacks distinctive traditions such as the bonfire that is the epitome of the Dartmouth Homecoming.

"The day itself is centered around the football game, which is either against Amherst or Wesleyan," said Williams student Michael O'Brien. "Alumni come back, there is lots of tailgating, [which is] followed by a huge night out."

At schools with bigger student bodies and larger football programs, extravagant homecoming traditions are commonplace. The University of Minnesota, Washington State and the University of Massachusetts are among the many with homecoming bonfires.

Though not their official Homecoming, Harvard-Yale weekend is akin to Dartmouth homecoming for those schools. Massive tailgating, parties and football spirit characterize this 'rivalry' game, said Harvard student Ray Hill.

"Harvard-Yale is like the one time at an Ivy League school that we really get to feel like a big time Division I school," he said. "The campus feels up there with Notre Dame on a game day."