Editorial: Home sweet Homecoming

It has not been a flawless fall at the College. All of the bio-cleanups and frightening drinking incidents likely left more than a few members of the community wondering if there was much left to be excited about and proud of here. True, we still had those number one rankings, but even U.S. News was suddenly more interested in our messes than our successes.

And then along came a perfect late fall day where we came together in mutual support and celebration, proving to ourselves and the outside world a few important things: we can be a genuine community, can respect one another and it’s actually pretty darn enjoyable to do both.

Those who took in the scene at Weston Field on Saturday got a firsthand view of those points. The crowd pressed around the “College GameDay” set, sporting purple and gold, waving signs and cheering wildly for our team and our school. It would have been easy for the ESPN broadcast to overshadow the rest of the Homecoming activities. But instead, when the cameras turned off, the Homecoming spirit played on: the turnout was huge, the tailgates were spirited and the football team was dominant. The tailgate area was packed as neighborhoods, houses, entries and sports teams hosted friends and welcomed back alumni. Up and down the aisles of cars, there was a sea of familiar faces, as well as plenty of purple and gold.

It started with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso, but it ended with co-captains Pat Lucey ’08, Jordan O’Reilly ’08, Jeff Egizi ’07, their teammates, their fans and the rest of our community. Fans stormed the field after the game and followed the football team as it paraded up Spring Street on the Walk, in a perfect illustration of members of the Williams family surrounding and rooting for one another.

This was not only a great day, but one from which we have much to learn. That show of support for fellow Ephs was wonderful to see, but it shouldn’t be limited to one sporting event on one day of the year. It should be extended to dropping by dance shows and Berkshire Symphony concerts throughout the year, to seeing swim meets over Winter Study and tennis matches in the spring, and perhaps even to watching your friends’ thesis defenses in late April. It means showing support for the Moocho Macho Moocow Military Marching Band, which was undeservedly disparaged in the Conventional Wisdom section of last week’s Record.

Now, we all work hard, at our studies, our sports and our activities. But it’s important to remember that, in addition to high achievement, the result of this focus can also be a self-centered fragmentation of classmates and a lack of simple engagement in the life of the College. When we get removed from one another like this, we tend to get defensive at attempts to draw us into the community, acting like we’re doing others a favor by coming out to support them.

We take issue with this self-centered view. Every single student down on the field and at the tailgates on Saturday morning had homework they could have been doing, or performances to be preparing for, or minutes on the elliptical to be putting in at the estrogym. But judging by the smiling faces and excited hugs throughout field, it seems safe to say that those other responsibilities were not paining most. Engaging in the community, be it by welcoming back old friends or cheering at the top of your lungs in the stands, is just plain fun. While this page often harps on how these actions benefit others, it’s important to note that the good feelings represent a two-way street. You get a lot out of putting in, too.

We admit that the magic of this year’s Homecoming cannot be replicated every weekend of the year. We recognize that even among Homecomings, this one was extraordinary, perhaps due to some outside factors. Maybe it helped that in the spring Williams graduated the last bitter students who knew Homecoming when it came complete with kegs in the tailgate area. Maybe it helped that Amherst students were elbowing us for a spot near the cameras at “GameDay.”

But whatever the specific causes, the fact remains that an exceptional satisfaction with and pride for Williams showed itself this weekend. And now that it’s been tapped, we know that the potential for this kind of community is alive and well here, despite the frustrations of the past few months. As a result, we see this weekend as not only a great time, but also a reasonable challenge. We’ve seen how great this place and these people can be when we all come together; now let’s do it when the cameras are off and the alums are at home.