COVID concerns loom over SIU-C Homecoming, Block Party preparations

The third Homecoming Block Party hosted by the Office of Student Engagement, is set for Oct. 14.

Homecoming 2020 was not able to happen due to the ongoing  COVID-19 pandemic amid lockdown restrictions, social distancing and masking orders. 

I think homecoming really shows a good idea of what the school is,” said Asani Scott, a sophomore majoring in biology. “It gives people a better idea of how good [Southern Illinois University at Carbondale] is, and shows everyone how good of a school we are.” 

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Food trucks, a climbing wall, craft activities, and carnival games are all planned for the event this year, which will last from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in front of Pulliam Hall, Holtkamp said.

However, for some students, like Graduate Assistant Jesse Snider, the event is an unnecessary risk in regard to spreading COVID-19.

Snider said he won’t be attending this year’s Homecoming events, and he’s worried large events could contribute to another spike in COVID cases.

“I don’t think it will be safe,” Snider said. 

Many Indoor events, such as the Sneaker Ball and featured comedy show with Chico Bean, have been limited to students, and Holtkamp said the university is following regulations put in place by the state of Illinois. 

We know our students are either vaccinated or tested weekly,” Hotlkamp said. 

Some events that were previously planned for the outdoors have been moved indoors, such as the Homecoming Pep Rally and Proclamation, which will be held in the Roman Room in the Student Center according to a Oct. 11 Facebook post. 

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Snider said he thinks any visitors on campus should be required to either be vaccinated or provide a negative COVID test, just as students and staff are required by Gov. JB Pritzker’s mandate in August. 

The block party is a more recent addition to the roster of homecoming events where students can show off the campus community, but was on hiatus in 2020 as in-person events were cancelled due to COVID restrictions. 

“We planned the event for the Homecoming in 2018 to go with the Mardi Gras theme that year,”  said Carly Holtkamp, associate director for the Office of Student Engagement.It was such a success we decided to make it an annual event.”

Sophomore Briana Ugalde-Galvan said the block party will be a welcome time for socializing since events have been limited due to the ongoing pandemic.

“There’s not much entertainment on campus for students because we’re trying to limit the amount of COVID outbreaks,” Ugalde-Galvan said. “Maybe they feel like we deserve something fun after so much not doing anything.” 

Scott, whose family members also attended SIU-C,  said he doesn’t think he or his family will be attending the block party, but still feels that community connection to the school is important. 

“I feel that having that background in a school like this can help families grow for the better,” Scott said. 

Past block parties have featured a DJ and novelty giveaways. 

For more Homecoming event information, check the event calendar online or find program adjustments on the Student Programming Council Facebook page

Staff reporter Joel Kottman can be reached at [email protected] on Snapchat: @joelkottman, on Instagram: @joel.kottman and on Twitter: @JoelKottman. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian  on Facebook and Twitter.

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