Opinion: Homecoming Should Stay In The Gyms
I have been to Homecoming three times. The first two years the event was held in the gyms, but this year I was surprised to learn that it had been moved to the Commons.
Despite the change in location, the nature of the dance was the same. Homecoming was, as always, a full sensory experience. Colorful dresses, dim lights and loud music characterize the event. The problem with moving it from the Gym to the Commons is there is no reprieve from the noise.
When the dance was in the Large Gym, that was all that was in the room. The dance. Everything else was outside of the gym, easily accessible but separated from the noise and the crowd.
The Small Gym in particular was used as a quieter social gathering place. Without the music, it provided an area of peace for those in need of a break, or a place you could catch up with friends without shouting. With the bleachers pulled out, it also offered people the space to sit down or to rest their feet. This year there were tables set up in the Commons, but they only gave the latter of these benefits. Other places that in the past students could go to give themselves a minute, like the concession stand and the photobooth, were also found just along the edges of the Commons.
The idea was that the gym lobby and hallway would be a replacement for this quiet space, but these areas have far less standing room and virtually no sitting room. The hallways are a means to get from one place to another. They aren’t gathering places. The hallways were open even when the dance was in the gyms, but students didn’t hang out there because there was a better alternative in the Small Gym.
People go to Homecoming for the atmosphere, but it can be draining being in the midst of it. Ultimately, having Homecoming in the Gym gives students more places to go and more things to do when they need a break.
Having everything in the Commons wasn’t the only problem with moving Homecoming 2018. There was a sense of disorganization in the way the dance was laid out. The entrance was the doors by the pool, and once a student got their ticket scanned, there was no going back. The catch was that the bags to put things in – shoes, wallet, tie, whatever – was in the Small Gym. Shoes had to be handed over before the ticket was scanned, but the chaperones were more concerned with getting students into the correct lines. For the most part students weren’t told this until after they had gone through the line, only finding out about it when they were told they could not go back. As a result, the walls and tables were lined with shoes – a testament to the disorganization that the move caused, and a deterrent to some who didn’t want to sit with someone else’s shoes.
When the dance was in the gyms, the flow was more logical. Students walked in, showed their tickets and ID, and then made their way to the lines for the bag check in the Commons. The bags were accessible all night, so if someone decided part way through to get a bag or to check on something inside it they could. With the bags in the Commons, students don’t have to worry about missing the bags or waiting until a certain time to go back to them.
Overall, the Commons aren’t a bad place to hold Homecoming, but there are issues that need to be worked out if the intention is to keep it there. The layout was confusing and the noise was largely unavoidable, leading to a night with a greater feeling of disorganization and discomfort than there has been in the past.
Moving forward, the problems with Homecoming in the Commons need to be fixed, or Homecoming should stay in the gyms.