Should Students Be Charged For Homecoming Events?

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SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND - MARCH 07: Megan Thee Stallion performs live onstage 2019 WKYS Women's Day Celebration at The Fillmore Silver Spring on March 07, 2019 in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo by Brian Stukes/Getty Images)
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Election season is wrapping up, which means that planning for the fall semester has commenced. Candidates vying for positions in SGA had platforms full of promises to either bring life and excitement to the yard or maintain the lit energy that previous administrations brought to the campus. Out of all the promises that SGA representatives, specifically the SGA president, has to make is the layout of homecoming festivities. I’ve seen the legacies of SGA presidents made or broken by the student’s reaction to the homecoming schedule. Homecoming plays a pivotal part in the regards of the student’s satisfaction with their elected administration.

It’s hard to deny this fact. Homecoming is akin to the NBA Finals for basketball players. Allen Iverson is seen as one of the greatest players in NBA history and shifted the culture of basketball with how he carried himself. Yet, if you bring him up as the best player to ever play the game of basketball, the first rebuttal would be “well, he didn’t win an NBA championship”. Homecoming is just like that for the legacies of SGA Presidents and their administration. Students hold homecoming to a high standard. They don’t care about the team that you have around you or the budget allocated to you. They care about the week of events planned. They care about the end game; students often skip the beginning of the story (planning) to get to the climax of the turn-up.

I witnessed first hand the pressure that the SGA President goes through when crafting homecoming. My second year in SGA at Fort Valley State University, we were tasked to put together the first homecoming concert in three years. We were being thrown names such as 21 Savage, Migos, Cardi B and performers that were asking for every student’s tuition payments plus the Title lll funds. Students looked at Howard, Southern, NCAT’s legendary GHOE homecoming line-up and FAMU and wanted something comparable. They wanted something that they could use to boast that their HBCU did it better than anyone. SGA couldn’t pull money out of thin air. Students that weren’t involved in the process couldn’t understand this.

SGA’s responsibility isn’t to make the yard lit. If anything, that’s the job of the Student Activities organization of the school. I mean, it’s in the name. Student Union Activity Board. Campus Activity Board. Student Government Association. The responsibility of SGA is to govern and use resources to advocate for the student body. Other organizations need money to function. There’s social and community service initiatives that SGA bankrolls. At some schools, the student activity fee becomes a factor. Either the activity fee is too low or there’s not enough students to give you the expansive student activity fee that’s necessary.

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All the money can’t be poured into homecoming because SGA needs those dollars to operate. Yet, students want homecoming to be a huge spectacle with bells, whistles and artists that won’t even perform at the BET Awards anymore. Something has to be done to find a middle ground where the expectations of the students are met but SGA is still able to govern accordingly throughout the year. There’s only one solution to make things happen efficiently. And that means charging for homecoming events.

Now wait! Stop right there! I already know someone is gonna want smoke with me for even insinuating that the students should pay for homecoming festivities. Let me make this clear before I start. I didn’t say all the homecoming activities needed to be paid for. I think the events of value should though. If I’m bringing DC Youngfly and the 85 South Show or someone that you’d pay to see for the comedy show, you should pay to see them. If you want Megan The Stallion to perform at homecoming in October realize that the price is probably gonna go up from what it was doing Springfest because her career is about to hit another level. There has to be some type of give or take to ensure that homecoming can be as lit as it possibly can and to make sure that SGA recoups the money that it gave up. 

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I don’t think it’s unreasonable to charge for certain homecoming festivities, especially a concert. If you go to Birthday Bash you’re paying for a ticket. At most music festivals that you go to you’re paying for a ticket. If you went to the Aubrey & The Three Migos tour, you paid for a ticket. The money you paid for the ticket didn’t go to anything that benefits you. But, paying moderately priced tickets for your homecoming concert will actually benefit you. Why wouldn’t you want to pay for your school’s concert, especially if the lineup is lit?

I look at Homecoming as the biggest recruitment mechanism and fundraising effort that student leaders can possibly put together. You’re literally displaying to the greater community around your institution and the world how lit you all are. I feel as if one of the biggest differences (and strengths) that HBCUs have over other institutions is the environment and social interactions of the campus. The culture of HBCU life is what makes students want to come to our institutions. The social environment is just as important as the academic environment. Homecoming itselfs aids in this environment.

If you go to an institution that has 5,000-10,000 students and is getting to the bag, that’s perfectly fine. But, this is a solution for the SGA Presidents and their E-Board that have to get inventive to put together their homecoming lineup and don’t want to be in the red for the rest of the year.

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