Homecoming at the University of Kentucky is meaningful for only three kinds of individuals: White Greeks, black Greeks and alumni.
Looking at the calendar of homecoming events and how they are organized, the interested reader comes across several key points. First, Paint the Town Blue is an annual tradition where student organizations — that is, the Greek community — is assigned a space to decorate in their own way according to the homecoming theme as defined by the Student Activities Board. Every year, the windows of White Hall and other buildings and businesses are colored with the anchor of Delta Gamma, the Wildcat Marching band of the wonderful sisters of Tau Beta Sigma and several other representations of the esoteric philosophy inherent in each Greek organization.
Secondly, the actual homecoming king and queen are voted for by only the Greek community. I say this mostly because my opinion as a proud member of a non-IFC fraternity has never been sought for the homecoming royalty that supposedly represents the entire UK community; a very similar statement can be made about the Mr. UK Pageant, presented by Delta Zeta, in which my old friend Kory Brocious was recently named Lad of the Lamp.
Understandably, black Greek students feel left out in the crowning of Homecoming Court because they are not a part of the IFC or PHC. Their response was to form the Mr. and Ms. Black UK Pageant, an event dating to the late 1980s, that is, again, voted for by the black Greek organizations. Another great black Greek tradition is the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Homecoming Step Show, an admittedly impressive show of NPHC chapters.
Alumni, the group most unabashedly catered-to group that steps foot on campus, are the main focus of the administration of this University. The UK Alumni Association invites all alumni back to campus every year, especially milestone anniversary groups, for events like the Golden Wildcat Reception and Dinner, a $35 a plate fundraiser and social activity, and the Homecoming Breakfast, a special gathering of Alumni Association members to start the day off before the homecoming game itself.
For non-Greek (white, black, or otherwise) students (as in not yet alumni), the annual homecoming tradition is something to be avoided. As a member of the marching band, I have marched in the parade several times, seeing more people in our group of 200 than in the crowds lining the parade path. When the homecoming court is being crowned, the stands are as empty as any other halftime in Commonwealth Stadium.
My final point is this: For as exciting and spirit rousing as Homecoming Week 2012 should be for a “True Blue Wildcat,” the week will pass as any other week (class, homework, sleep, repeat) and Saturday will pass as just another loss in this disappointing football season.