More than a football game

“It has to be more than a football game,” said former dean of students of Wilfrid Laurier University Fred Nichols about the purpose of Homecoming.

With Homecoming 2011 this past weekend, alumni of all ages returned to their school for the “Soaring for a Century” celebration. But despite the football match traditionally serving as the main event of the Homecoming weekend, many alumni returned to Laurier for reasons other than watching the big game.

“It’s always nice to go back to a place where you have so much fun and relive some of those years of university,” Marsha Chiet a 2001 kinesiology graduate.

1986 history graduate Mark Kelly visited Laurier for the day with his family said, “We already had the breakfast, now we’re just going to check out the campus and take the campus tour.”

Although Chiet and Kelly both planned to attend the football game at 1 p.m, they also had other goals in mind for their day at Laurier.

“I’m doing the Kin reception right now” Chiet shares on her way to Alumni Hall.
“My daughter is also looking at the campus to see if she’s going to come here,” said Kelly.

Previous to this year, Chiet has never returned for a Laurier Homecoming celebration, while Kelly came back once for his fifth year reunion in 1991.

Fourth-year psychology student Kirsti Karjala was one of the student ambassadors giving campus tours on Saturday, Oct. 1 that ran before, after and during the football game.

“Just think about how much the school has changed since the 80s. There have been so many buildings that have been added, so many residences that have been added, we’ve grown by such an exponential amount,” Karjala said, giving her take on the demand for tours on homecoming weekend.

“The alumni grows every year. The university needs to find things of interest for them to want to come back,” said Nichols.

“The nice thing about early years, my experience is that I knew so many of the students, I knew so many of them personally,” added the 1967-1997 dean of students.

But as Laurier’s population has more than doubled in the past decade, it is no longer possible for the dean or other staff of WLU to know everyone that returns for Homecoming.

“It’s changed, Homecoming’s just totally changed and that’s why we’re adding this Legends [of Laurier Lecture] to it,” shared Nichols, reasoning that “if you want to have a decent Homecoming, have something that let’s us know what’s good about the university.”

Along with the Legend of Laurier Lecture, other events the university hosted this weekend include golf tournaments, free pancake breakfast, faculty open houses, campus tours along with alumni parties and celebrations at Bingemans, Wilf’s and the Turret.

Nichols shared with The Cord that one of his favourite Homecoming events is no longer a tradition at WLU, “I miss the preparations for the homecoming parade, that was fun… they would have a theme for the homecoming parade and everybody had to compete.”