Disclaimer: these opinions do not necessarily reflect the entirety of Her Campus Uconn.
Homecoming is usually the time of year for different organizations from all around campus to participate in some fun competitions, including float building, banner making, lip sync, pageants and more, and for Alma Mater to get the UConn community together for the Homecoming football game. This year, this fun-filled week has shifted from a time of friendly competition to all of the Homecoming participants coming together to fight for equality.
In July of 2016, Joelle A. Murchison was hired as the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) here at UConn and was directed by President Susan Herbst to form the Diversity Task, an idea which was to designed to make the university more diverse and inclusive. Ever since Murchison was appointed CDO, there has been a lack of communication with the students and staff regarding major issues – such as Homecoming.
On February 16th of this year, Murchison announced that cultural centers were no longer allowed to be involved in any Homecoming events and would not receive funding to anything related to the events. Murchison then attended another meeting at the Puerto Rico Latin American Cultural Center (PR/LACC) later in the year and denied that she had said this. According to a Letter to the Editor in the Daily Campus, Murchison was acting extremely disrespectful to both students and staff during this meeting and was interrupting, pointing fingers and yelling, “‘Sweetheart, students don’t have a say in administrative decisions here,’” when a student asked why she did not receive student input before making major decisions about an event as student oriented as Homecoming. Murchison also stated that the cultural centers shouldn’t participate because they were “academically disadvantaged”, according to a Daily Campus article. Not only is this incorrect, but it’s insulting to everyone involved in the cultural centers.
Murchison then put out a statement trying to clarify any misunderstandings about cultural centers and Homecoming. She denied making any policies regarding cultural centers participation and said that they were welcome to do so and that they were willing to use their names if they felt so inclined. Students were obviously upset at all that the CDO has done, and many agreed that Murchison should be put on probation for her actions.
Homecoming is going to play out a little bit differently than it has in past years. Usually, everyone from Greek life, to cultural centers, to clubs and more participate in all of the events. But this year, lip sync was cancelled in total, there was no float building, and the cultural centers boycotted the parade and possibly homecoming as a whole. In protest, it was brought up that everyone would attend the homecoming parade on Sunday in all UConn attire. Meghan Smith, the Homecoming Chair from the sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi said, “Our team was told to wear all UConn gear because that’s initially what all of the Homecoming chairs of all organizations decided on doing in coming together in unity as a school.” Even though not all organizations participated in this attire change, it was a great way to show how we as a school can all come together and fight for equal opportunity and rights for all organizations.
*photo courtesy of Anna Freeda*
Murchison has made a lot of contradicting announcements about the role cultural centers were allowed to have in this year’s Homecoming. These statements were reported to the staff and students at UConn in an unfair and degrading way. Homecoming is supposed to be an entertaining time for some friendly competitions between organizations, and Murchison stands as a barrier for the cultural centers participation. This is unfair and quite frankly not professional of Murchison. This brings a bad reputation to UConn as a whole. We need to find a way to make this university integrated again, because that is what being a Husky is all about.
Cover Image courtesy of Anna Freeda