Campus Picnic and T-Shirt Exchange celebrate homecoming

Students, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Student Center at Eastern Michigan University to celebrate homecoming week with a picnic and t-shirt exchange. 

Taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 24, the entire event was originally planned to be on the Student Center patio. However, due to the high wind and chill, the picnic part of the event was moved to the ballroom. Both events ran from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

The tee-shirt exchange remained outdoors, much to the delight of Michelle Owens, an alumnae and current RecIM staff member at EMU. Those interested could bring a t-shirt from another college and exchange it for an EMU homecoming t-shirt, with the former shirt being donated to the Homeless Empowerment Relationship Organization (HERO)

“The spirit of the t-shirt exchange is to bring a shirt from another college or university,” she said. “We do not want you to wear another shirt from another university!”

While rivel college shirts were encouraged and expected in order to get a homecoming shirt, any other shirts were taken as well to be donated. 

Owens has served on the homecoming committee at EMU since 1997, and has run the t-shirt exchange table ever since then. When asked about her favorite thing about homecoming, Owens said she loved seeing the school’s alumni return. 

“We do a reunion every year for alumni from the RecIM - we do it on Saturday too the day of the (football) game and we tailgate and reminisce, “ she said. “We have a good history; we see a lot of employees we have about 200 student employees at the Rec so...we have a lot of former students who come back to see us.” 

Inside, in the Student Center ballroom, food had been set up for visiting staff, alumni, and current students to eat. Multiple tables were set up to sit at, along with a DJ playing music. The event was free for everyone. 

Several tables were filled with alumni and staff, while students tended to move in and out quicker. Swoop the Eagle, EMU’s mascot, also made an appearance. 

Kerry Stephenson, a staff member at the accounting department at EMU (and self-identified future winner of the office homecoming decorating contest) said she goes to the campus picnic every year. 

“I like it because we get to see everybody around campus,” she said. “We’re all gathered together - it’s a good spirit event. My husband and I are alumni, we have two children who are alumni and my grandmother is alumni.” 

Brooke Lenart, senior and member of the cheer team at EMU, shared similar sentiments about the event. 

“This is the one time of year everyone has a little spirit,” she said. “I like seeing all my friends come back who have graduated...they come back just to have fun.” 

President James Smith attended the event as well. He encouraged students to get into the energy of homecoming and take the time to celebrate it, along with engaging in the multiple events over the week. 

“Homecoming is just a traditional opportunity to bring back alums and long-time commitment givers to the university - also an opportunity for students to meet some those individuals,” he said. “We rally around a weekend that’s all dedicated to Eastern.” 

The picnic and tee-shirt exchange was part of a series of events planned for homecoming week. It was followed by the 3rd annual Green and White Ball on Thursday, Oct. 25, the block party and pep rally on Friday, Oct. 26, and the football game against Army West Point on Sat. Oct. 27. 

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