Pulse and CASA Talk About the Process on Planning Virtual Homecoming Events

By Shantanika Sallis, Staff Writer

Homecoming is a widely celebrated tradition within HBCUs. The effect of Covid-19 was a major setback for the Fall 2020 academic school year, including the popular occasion that is Spelhouse homecoming. Homecoming director Amari Harper of Spelman Colleges “Pulse” and Live events coordinator Jamari Norwood of Morehouse Colleges “CASA”  spoke on the process of planning a virtual homecoming for students.

Representing Pulse as their homecoming director, Harper discussed her position and planning of a virtual homecoming, while collaborating with Morehouse’s CASA and how they had to deal with a planning homecoming for the first time being a virtual experience.

“I was elected homecoming director, and we were all hoping to be on campus, but this year was a blessing and curse because I didn’t have to be on campus ripping and running trying to plan homecoming,” Harper said. “And with this year being virtual, it was a whole new dimension of testing out ideas to see if they work.”

“I started off with CASA Element, where it was made up of Freshman and Sophomore students who wanted to join CASA, and we came up with proposals for different events to happen on campus, and it led me to be a member of live events,” Norwood said.

“With live events, my role is to construct and keep everything in order for the different events, and since we were virtual this year, I mostly had to attend the live events, comment on them, and make sure they were engaged.”

Harper and Norwood explained what they felt was most challenging about creating a virtual homecoming. Seeing as though homecoming is about experience and memories, they touched on how to make a virtual homecoming worth going to.

“Finding the medium between creating a homecoming and not doing too much was the most challenging part,” Harper said. “At first we were thinking a zoom event, but that was a no because we know people are tired of being on zoom and nobody wants to have to deal with logging in.”

“Thankfully we had the concert on Tixr, and the Kickoff Jam on Instagram live, so there were two different platforms, one in which we all were comfortable with and the other having easy access,” Harper said. “The concert being on Tixr this year was the best part for me because everyone was able to attend, including alumni because previous years so many students did not have a ticket or the Chapel was too full, so that was the one thing I liked”

“ We had to come together with Pulse and figure out how to get people interested in the first place, so it was tough figuring out how to get students engaged when it is virtual,” Norwood said. “I knew a lot of students wouldn’t be interested and say ‘I am not going to this’ because they are not on campus, but shoutout to Pulse for coming up with the Kickoff Jam with the top two DJ’s.”

“Virtually, I liked how the concert brought back so many memories from when I was able to attend homecoming my Freshman and Sophomore year. It was just so good to see everyone being supportive and sharing their experiences from past homecomings.”

Pulse even gave us a little behind the scenes in the planning process with CASA, since the two Organizations usually have face to face meetings the organizations do not always see eye to eye with their ideas.

“With CASA, we have a hate/love relationship just like brother and sister, and we were fighting to get each other’s opinions out,” said Harper. “At the beginning, it was rough because ideas were clashing, but eventually a middle ground was found for the theme.”

“We had our first meeting on zoom and with around 30 different people, some just chilling, and others with their friends, and it was different because normally in person our meetings are very intense,” Harper said. “Since we were on zoom, all you saw was the green square moving around as people were talking over each other.”

“It got to a point where I had to manually mute people mid-talk because I was like you are talking over another person, and that was definitely the most frustrating part,” Harper said. “We eventually took it to a group message and then everyone was able to communicate their opinions and read others without feeling like their idea was invalid.”

Pulse and CASA did their job and made the most out of a very disappointing situation. Of course, there was some pushback about the homecoming events from the student body.

“I figured it was going to happen because that is just how students are going to be, said Norwood. “I mean we could not do anything about it because COVID-19 messed up the experience of being on campus. “I kind of feel the same way because we should be on campus having fun together, but everything happens for a reason.”

“I have come to realize with Pulse is that not everyone is going to be happy and people are always going to have something to say, “ Harper said. “I know once we announced the artist, the first few tweets I saw was mainly about not being able to see Wale in person, and I went to the pulse chat and was like at least they are upset for a good reason.”

This school year is almost halfway done, and Pulse and CASA hint at having more events planned for the upcoming semester.

“I can’t speak on it, but there are definitely things coming into the works, especially if we are able to come back on campus,” Norwood said. “There is still Springfest and J’ouvert but it is not definite because we are not on campus. Overall, there are events being planned and stuff in the works.”