Homecoming celebrates Miami’s unique culture with week of events

Student organizations display their models of local buildings and stuctures during the "All Out for My City" Homecoming Opening Ceremonies Friday evening at the Rathskeller. Shreya Chidarala // Assistant Photo Editor
Student organizations display their models of local buildings and stuctures during the "All Out for My City" Homecoming Opening Ceremonies Friday evening at the Rathskeller. Shreya Chidarala // Assistant Photo Editor
Student organizations display their models of local buildings and structures during the All Out for My City Homecoming Opening Ceremonies on Friday evening at the Rathskeller. Shreya Chidarala // Assistant Photo Editor

Homecoming may take place for just one week in the fall, but the yearlong preparation needed to put it together makes everyone involved believe that its nine-day length isn’t enough.

Almost a year of work is put into the Homecoming week, which began on Friday and ends on Saturday. The Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC) plays a massive role in organizing the parade, pageant, competitions, volunteer outings and cheer events.

“We’re going to put on a show like they do at Disney because people have worked hard,” said O’Shane Elliot, Homecoming chair for the HEC. “You’ll find a capacity of 5,000 people on campus for one reason and organizations dedicating time and work to the week for the mere fact that it’s a good time.”

The HEC starts working in December of the previous year to pick the executive board, which is comprised of the chair and three vice chairs as well as a staff of about 30 to 35 members. Afterward, members are split into different committees and work for the next eight months.

“The first couple of meetings [are] about building camaraderie and [getting] everyone acquainted with one another so they feel comfortable working together for such a long time,” Vice Chair Jackie Safstrom said. “It’s about bracing ourselves with the logistics of things so that over the summer and into the fall, it’s more about ordering things and action items and then putting it all together when the time comes.”

The HEC members began working on a theme during those meetings. “For My City” was chosen to honor the school’s relationship with Miami and to deviate from the playful themes of previous years, such as Dr. Seuss and Pixar. HEC wanted something that everyone on campus could relate to, like living in Miami.

“We don’t all have the same major, but everyone’s walked across the Rock. We don’t all grow up in the same place, but you’ve definitely gone on I-95 and realized how terrible traffic is,” Elliot said.

Students were confused about what the theme means when it was announced at Canes Carnival in April. The ambiguity was intended to foster creativity and to allow the organizations involved to be unique in their ideas and performances. Students on each committee in HEC, such as Sponsorship, Organized Cheer and Spirit Tree, have the freedom to decide what they want their events to look like.

“Everyone is in charge of their event and takes a special piece of the pie and feels invested in it,” Elliot said. “If they don’t feel invested, we’re not doing a good job then.”

New rules were implemented this year. The Alma Mater Singing Competition required a playlist to be submitted prior to the preliminary round of the songs and the parade is receiving a sub-theme, the beach, which has not been done before. Organizations were assigned a decade to portray on their float that would reflect UM and Miami at the same time. The Hurricane Howl is concentrating on the Wynwood Walls and each organization that participates will turn in a decorated piece of plywood.

“The prep is always fun because you see this thing come from nothing to something fantastic,” said Santiago Massa, Association of Commuter Students (ACS) Homecoming chair. “Sitting back after everything and just seeing how well we did and how proud [we are] of each other is great. Nothing can touch the roller coaster of emotions you feel during that week.”

Massa joined ACS because he wanted to get more involved on campus and in Homecoming activities like Organized Cheer. In his second year, he took a bigger role in the choreography. Now, as a junior, he wanted to give back to ACS, so he decided to take on a leadership role.

“We work hard in everything we take part in, whether it’s Homecoming or service events or just doing our chants for no reason, and people recognize that,” Massa said. “Plus, we really are a family.”

The time spent preparing can be stressful between classes and other involvements.

“As a participant, I was stressed because I was helping out as much as possible already but as a chair, I have the final say in everything and it’s a very different feeling,” said Patricia Colon, Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) Homecoming chair . “It’s just been a roller coaster ride, but at the end of the day I love it and it’s worth it. I’m Colombian and I still represent the Cuban colors.”

Colon’s typical day consists of checking the status of each event FEC is participating in and getting members ready and excited for performances.

“We have Homecoming down to a science, it’s just a matter of adding the spice to it every year,” Colon said.

Alumni of United Black Students (UBS) have a tradition of meeting with current members and going to watch the parade and fireworks together.

“Two years ago, we had the first president from UBS come and he was just hanging out with us watching the fireworks … and here we have the guy who helped start it all,” UBS Homecoming Chair Beja Turner said. “That’s my favorite part – seeing the beginning to the end all in one space.”

Turner decided to become Homecoming chair after doing O-Cheer her freshman year and joining HEC her sophomore year. Now, as a junior, she decided to “bring it back home” to UBS.

“It’s the best week of the entire year. [While] I’m chair for Martin Luther King Jr. week, I still think Homecoming is the best,” Turner said. “You meet so many organizations and people … we all love each other, even if we’re trying to beat each other.”

Event Homecoming 2014 Student Organization Responsibilities Additional Responsibilities for Student Organizations during Homecoming 2015
Opening Ceremonies Created a dessert that incorporates school spirit and theme. Create a model of an iconic UM or City of Miami building from recycled materials.
Alma Mater Used one serious and one humorous Pixar quote. Creative singing performance must include at least four lines from Alma Mater remixed into different songs.


Must incorporate a song from a Miami-born artist.


Teams must submit the list of songs used in the creative portion of the performance.

Spirit Tree Required at least five members in attendance, in addition to the participants. Requires at least 10 members in attendance, in addition to the participants.


Skit may be no longer than 60 seconds.

O-Cheer Decorated cowboy hat. Decorated “U’ bucket hat.


Each team must “rescue” Sebastian from an assigned location.

Hurricane Howl Each team will receive a plywood canvas to decorate.
Parade Floats have been assigned a decade or time period that highlights UM and Miami at that time.
Social Media Competition Find HEC members wearing Finding Nemo hats. Find HEC members wearing Sebastian hats.


Organizations will develop unique hashtags to be used on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.