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A large Homecoming sign. Homecoming Week kicked-off with Bulldog Bash, an event that had free food and prizes, at Tate Plaza. (Photo/Caitlin Jett)

Ah, Homecoming Week. Hailed by its website as “the University of Georgia’s Greatest Tradition,” it’s a chance for current students and alumni to celebrate the university’s history and look forward to the future.

Except, that hasn’t happened. Instead of a grand event that the university holds every year, Homecoming feels more like a blip on the radar. In the future, it needs to grow to reinforce school spirit and recognize the university’s history and accomplishments. To do this, it should place a greater emphasis on bridging the gaps between alumni and students.

Homecoming is almost over, but I haven't seen much about it besides the big sign outside of the Tate Student Center, some campaigning for Homecoming royalty and an event or two. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the student body pays little attention to Homecoming Week. If it wasn't held next year, I and many other students might not even notice.

It’s not because of a lack of activities for students. A glance at the UGA Homecoming website shows the week has been filled with events. There was even one on Thursday featuring the legendary former UGA running back Herschel Walker, the 1982 Heisman winner and arguably the greatest football player in the university’s history. There’s also been plenty to choose from for students who don't care about sports, including a lip-sync competition, a parade and a carnival.

However, this may highlight one of the issues. UGA is big, and there’s always things for students to do when they’re out of class, making it seem like Homecoming Week is not so different from any other week. Mix in its proximity to midterms, and many students might decide they have better things to do.

Alumni have the opposite problem. Compared to students, they have fewer choices. Some colleges are hosting tailgates on Saturday before the football game between UGA and the University of Kentucky, and the UGA Black Alumni Leadership Council has its annual Black Alumni Homecoming Tailgate. Beyond that, there's not much they can attend besides the parade and Saturday's game, limiting their experience. The lack of events for alumni is disappointing. After all, Homecoming Week is supposed to be a chance for alumni to return to university to reinvigorate their school spirit and see how UGA has changed. They are at least as important, if not more so, to Homecoming as students, yet there isn't much to welcome them back.

Adding events designed to join students and alumni together could solve these problems. The new, specialized events would differentiate Homecoming from other celebrations and give alumni greater reason to reconnect with their university. It would also allow alumni and current students to share their experiences and gain a new appreciation for how UGA has evolved over the years.

Though many students overlook it, Homecoming Week can be a special time each year to pay tribute to UGA’s past. Events with both students and alumni can help achieve this goal and bring more excitement to this long-standing tradition.

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