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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
December 5 , 2023

Homecoming organizers prioritize ‘Canes spirit, inclusivity

Members of the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC) pose with Miami mascot Sebastian the Ibis at the 2023 Homecoming Opening Ceremony at Lakeside Patio on Oct. 23, 2023.
Members of the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC) pose with Miami mascot Sebastian the Ibis at the 2023 Homecoming Opening Ceremony at Lakeside Patio on Oct. 23, 2023. Photo credit: HEC

It’s time to stand tall, step forward and “Leave Your Legacy” because it’s Homecoming week. The various competitions and spirit-filled events that make the week memorable would not be possible without the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC).

Comprised of 30 student leaders, HEC has been working since March to put together each event.

“Whether it be current students, alumni, faculty, staff or future ‘Canes, Homecoming is a chance to celebrate UM, and I look forward to seeing the liveliness across campus throughout the week,” said Sara Ebrahimi, vice chair of HEC and a junior studying global health studies and microbiology & immunology with minors in chemistry and sociology.

Members of HEC chose this year’s theme, “Leave Your Legacy,” after careful consideration of what Homecoming week should represent for students. On the surface, the theme brings to mind images of superheroes, but the message runs deeper — HEC believes every student has the potential to make a mark on the U and be recognized for generations to come.

The committee has planned events for everyone in the UM community, such as the Opening Ceremony & ‘Canes Spirit Day, the Homecoming Pageant, Homecoming Trivia Tuesday, the Homecoming Concert presented by Hurricane Productions, the Hurricane Howl block party and the Boat Burning and Fireworks Show.

In past years, Homecoming participation largely came from upperclassmen. This year, HEC aimed to make events more accessible for new students. Changes to the competitions and guidelines will ensure that students do not have to know a lot about the University of Miami in order to participate.

“While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, we wanted more first-year students to become involved and feel a stronger connection to Homecoming week,” said Joshua Abel, vice chair of HEC and a junior studying political science and French with minors in general music and public advocacy communication.

Ebrahimi first experienced UM Homecoming at only five years old. She participated in her first Hurricane Howl and saw first-hand the pride ‘Canes had for their university. She loved it so much that she imagined herself attending the ceremony again as a future ‘Cane.

“Homecoming is the time during the year that makes so many new ‘Canes feel like they are a part of the campus community, and encourages others to feel eager and excited to celebrate their background at the U,” Ebrahimi said.

For other members of HEC, Homecoming became something they discovered as students that has played a key role in fueling their sense of belonging in the UM community.

“​​I began my journey at the University of Miami during the pandemic, so this was the first time I had experienced what it was like to come together as individuals from all across the university to celebrate our love for the U,” said Sarah Sluka, chair of HEC and a senior studying nursing and minoring in psychology.

Being an HEC student leader has not only shaped these students’ time at UM, but it has also taught them how to organize large-scale events while promoting inclusivity.

“When events are designed with inclusivity in mind, they become a platform for building bridges, breaking down barriers and allowing students from various backgrounds and walks of life to come together, engage and share their experiences,” Abel said.

Students can get involved in Homecoming in many ways, such as joining HEC, attending events throughout the week, or competing with a student organization in one of the many competitions.

“I love being with a group of people who have the same love for the university and want to contribute to spreading ‘Canes spirit within the university community through the greatest lasting tradition,” Ebrahimi said.

Students interested in joining HEC next year can follow the organization’s Instagram page @umiamihomecoming for more information on the application timeline.

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