There’s one goal Keri Ellington, assistant dean of students and student involvement, hopes to achieve at the annual homecoming pep rally tonight.
After receiving a variety of feedback following the pep rally last year, changes were made to make this year’s event include all types of students.
Students can expect to see a few changes, but the one that has sparked the most conversation is about how the spirit stick will be awarded.
This year, the spirit stick competition—where students sing the fight song—will pit graduation classes, not organizations, against each other to win, Ellington said.
Ellington said when the change was officially made, the rumors started to stir.
“One of the rumors out there is that people can’t sit together by organization,” she said. “That is not true. If a student organization, fraternity or sorority wants to all come together and sit together in the stands and cheer together and dress similarly, they can absolutely do that.”
After months of planning, Ellington met with Student Congress and the Student Entertainment Board to brainstorm ways to include all students in the pep rally and create a more inclusive atmosphere.
“These changes are necessary because Franklin College needs to be more united and give more students a chance to love the school and their experiences here,” said Hanna Ballard, senior and Student Entertainment Board president. “Many students communicated that they felt they could not attend the pep rally because it was for only Greek organizations.”
Alumna Erin Moll, a senior at the time, was one student that expressed concern with the event last year.
This time last year, Moll created a post on social media expressing her anger with what she referred to as a “Greek pep rally.”
In an October 2015 issue of The Franklin, both Moll, a non-affiliated student, and a Greek-affiliated student shared their positions on the overall atmosphere of the rally.
“It feels like it is a Greek thing, but it shouldn’t be about that,” Moll said in the article. “It should be about our football team winning and us coming together as students and alumni.”
Ballard said the Student Entertainment Board and other student organizations on campus want to make it clear to all students that homecoming week is to “show our school spirit” and to “unite as a campus.”
During her freshman year, sophomore Holly Short wasn’t affiliated with a Greek organization.
As she sat in the crowd of other non-affiliated students, Short said she didn’t feel excluded but wanted to be more involved on campus at the time.
“I think [the change] will be good because the pep rally is for everyone to support the school,” Short said. “It’s not an organizational thing, but I also feel like if they’re not involved in an organization, I’m not sure that doing this by class is going to get them there. It’s a personal thing—not necessarily an organization involvement issue.”
Short, also a member of Student Congress, joined the college’s Zeta Tau Alpha sorority chapter in February and said she looks forward to sitting with them at the rally tonight.
In another effort to include more students in the event, all fall sports teams were invited to be recognized at the rally.
Coaches had the option of whether to include their team in the overall recognition.
The homecoming celebration kicks off with the college’s first pre-pep rally tailgate, which starts at 7 p.m. tonight in the Spurlock Center. All students are invited.
“This came from an idea students thought of last spring where they felt like if they just walked into the pep rally without a huge group already, they felt less likely to want to do that,” Ellington said.
The tailgate will include food, music, door prizes, raffles, games and homecoming shirts for students who stay for both the tailgate and pep rally.