Seven months. It’s been seven full months since we found ourselves waist deep in an international pandemic. The circumstances that we find ourselves in are unexpected. Add on the fact that we’re inching closer and closer to one of the most consequential elections in American history and you have a storyline out of a movie. Adjusting to HBCU Life in a COVID world has been challenging. But, of course, the most challenging part of it all is adjusting our social norms to fit the climate that we’re in.
Homecoming is the most revered time on any HBCU student and alumni’s calendar. It’s a celebration of our rich history and culture. It’s a way to create lifelong memories if you’re in undergrad or relieve the glory days if you’ve already walked the stage. When the pandemic raged into the summer with cases rising, we hoped that we’d be able to turn the corner just in time for the homecoming tailgate. Sadly, that didn’t happen. We’re worse than where we were in this COVID crisis months ago with no foreseeable timetable to when we’ll be back to “normal”.
Institutions have responded to the pandemic in their own ways. While many colleges are partially open with students living and learning on campus, some of these same schools decided not to have any type of celebration of homecoming. However, there are a handful of schools that did have some type of homecoming celebration whether it was virtual or semi-in person. These COVID era homecoming festivities took over social media and started conversations amongst students at other HBCUs with stricter COVID regulations to become unhappy about the state of their HBCU campus life. Truly, these students felt as if the grass was greener on the other side.
It’s understandable to feel emotions at the experience that was lost on your campus when you see that institutions like Howard and the HBCUs in the AUC put together inventive virtual homecoming lineups. It might burn you up even more when you see HBCUs such as Benedict College successfully having a virtual/in-person & socially distant homecoming as your school decides to do nothing. However, problems arise when students start to needlessly complain about what their school doesn’t have and how “lame” things are as opposed to that same time the year before.
What problems does complaining solve? All it does is cause dissension and decreases overall school spirit and morale. Instead of being grateful that you were able to return to your institution amid the pandemic and making the best of this situation, you’re perpetuating this energy of hopelessness that sucks the life out of the yard. Imagine how the class of 2024 feels. They’ve been robbed of their prom, graduation and the lit first semester that they expected as they set themselves up to embark on their HBCU journey. They’re looking at the other HBCUs and wishing they had that experience. Now, they have to deal with the negative talk of how the old days were so much better and how it’s “lame” that nothing was put together.
When will we realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. You don’t know what those student leaders and student life advisors had to go through to make those activities having, virtual or otherwise. You don’t know the circumstances they’re going through. You don’t know the pressure that’s put on the SGA or student activity board members of those respective colleges to put together something lit despite the circumstances. Every experience won’t be the same. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that we are in a pandemic.
The energy towards complaining and maintaining an atmosphere of hopelessness and self pity can be put into working within the restrictions that your school has set forth and making your own homecoming experience. Talk to your student leaders off of social media and come to them with ideas that they can enact. There’s ways to make things happen and I feel as if we constantly miss the mark. If we’re going to get past this dark point in our lives with our HBCU spirit strong and sanity intact, we must stick together within our respective HBCU communities. We must promote positivity and work with one another to find joy despite the pain. And, we must have hope of a brighter future for student life on our HBCU campuses once this extended storm is over.