Peer institutions also enjoy fall celebrations
By Josh Koenig
Published on Friday, October 26, 2012
Homecoming celebrations at Dartmouth’s peer institutions are marked by intense athletic rivalries and fall-themed culinary events, according to students at other colleges.
Cornell University’s homecoming football game draws alumni back to campus, but its major fall event for students is the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival, which occurs the week after Homecoming, Cornell sophomore Marissa Guiang said. Students call the festival, now in its 30th year, “Applefest.”
The university partners with downtown merchants to host over 100 vendors, apple-centric food products and a craft show in Ithaca.
Guiang said that last year’s event brought her into downtown Ithaca for the first time.
“It helped me explore more of campus and of Ithaca and was the first time I felt comfortable with the whole of campus, not just with my classes or my dorm,” she said.
In another fall tradition, the Cornell Dairy Store commemorates a 1997 prank during which a student put a pumpkin on the university’s McGraw Tower spire, Guiang said. The store sells “Clocktower Pumpkin” ice cream in memory of the prank each year, she said.
At Brown University, Homecoming weekend athletics do not play a substantial role in student life, according to freshman Hannah Silverman.
“It’s almost a joke, because we always lose our games,” Silverman said.
As in previous years, the Queer Alliance at Brown will host the fall’s largest dance party, “SexPowerGod,” she said. The event is advertised across campus with posters featuring Brown students modeling in provocative poses, and university students are intent on attending the dance, according to Silverman.
Silverman said that the fall celebrations at Brown are not especially significant in a freshman’s transition to university life.
“I think it’s definitely more of a gradual process,” she said. “People here are incredibly friendly, but there is no specific moment or event that focuses on the transition. You really get out what you put in.”
At Yale University, the traditional football game against Ivy League rival Harvard University makes Homecoming weekend a fall highlight, with “The Game” serving as a centerpiece for three days of partying, sophomore Rafi Khan said.
“The tailgate is fun, and it’s awesome to scream anti-Harvard chants 500 times,” Khan said. “People get really into it.”
Like at Yale, Columbia University’s Homecoming game is important for the social opportunities it presents, rather than its sporting value, according to sophomores John Chen and Wilson Ho.
Before the game, played this year against the Big Green, Columbia’s Student Council handed out inflatable noise-sticks emblazoned with the university’s logo and also gave noisemakers to students wearing school colors, Ho said.
Due to its location in New York City, Columbia faces the unique difficulty of transporting a large number of students to and from the Homecoming game.
“There is a shuttle to the football field, but it is kind of a hassle because it’s almost a 30 minute ride,” Chen said.
Despite the difficulty, the game frequently has a large turnout, Ho said.
Homecoming traditions also vary at New England Small College Athletic Conference schools, including Amherst College and Bowdoin College.
A long-standing rivalry with Williams College heightens the excitement surrounding Homecoming for students at Amherst, according to freshman Lexie Barber. Members of the Amherst community see the Williams football game as a highlight of the fall, she said.
Since the game draws alumni back to the college, Amherst schedules activities including open classes and a networking workshop to allow visiting alumni to connect with current students, according to Amherst’s website for alumni events.
The college takes advantage of its New England location by hosting a Fall Festival, including events similar to those hosted by the Dartmouth Outing Club the week before Homecoming.
“We offer fall hikes, pumpkin carving, food products from different farms around the area and the traditional donuts and cider,” Barber, a member of Amherst’s outing club, said.
Like Dartmouth, Amherst also celebrates Homecoming with a bonfire, built annually on Memorial Hill. The college’s Student Assembly — not its freshman class — organizes the bonfire, and there are no further traditions associated with the fire, Barber said.
While Bowdoin College also welcomes back alumni during the fall, its events and traditions are scattered across the season and not concentrated into a single week, according to freshman Deion Desir.
Bowdoin’s biggest celebration occurs each spring at “Ivies,” a tradition that supposedly celebrates Bowdoin’s decision to turn down Ivy League membership, he said.
At Bowdoin, which eliminated its Greek system in the 1990s, many alumni return for events and to speak at social houses or college houses, application-based living communities located in former Greek buildings.