Homecoming Weekend 2021: Smaller scale, same effect

Current and former students were able to reconnect in spite of COVID-19 event restrictions.


Hoon Kim

Mr. C riding a swing at the homecoming block party, as photographed on Oct. 22, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Hoon Kim)

Ekta Anand, Staff Writer

This year’s Homecoming Weekend saw a reduction in events and festivities due to COVID-19. Most notably, the class parties held for alumni of all graduating years were not held. 

Instead, the events were limited to the Homecoming Block Party and the homecoming football game as well as various campus organization service events such as the homecoming blood drive and VSG thrift store/donation drive. 

Reunion 2020 Chairs Karen and Bill Fesmire, as well as Reunion 2021 Chairs Suzanne Perot McGee and Patrick McGee expressed their support and hope for a more robust reunion in the future. 

“As COVID-19 infections continue to rise in Tennessee and elsewhere, impacting community and industry, we fully support the university’s decision to postpone the festivities,” they stated in a Sept. 1 press release. “We will keep you updated on plans as they evolve with a hopeful eye for the spring and summer of 2022.”

Eden Singh (‘21) said the alumni experience was not inhibited by the COVID-19 restrictions. 

“It was exciting to see campus and those events in a more normal way, the pre-COVID Vanderbilt coming back,” Singh said. “ It feels like it’s been two years since I’ve had these experiences.” 

The annual Vanderbilt Programming Board (VPB) block party on Friday, Oct. 22 invited all students and alumni to enjoy the carnival rides, DJ, free food, t-shirts and more. Held on Alumni Lawn from 7 to 10 p.m. CDT, this event offered a celebratory evening to welcome alumni back to campus. 

“It was a nice community-building event,” first-year Emily Qian said. “I really enjoyed that there were a whole bunch of people there: alumni, upperclassmen, people that you don’t know.”

In previous years, the block party has often featured a performer such as Jojo or Jesse McCartney; however, this year’s block party was limited to food trucks and carnival activities.  

The homecoming football game on Saturday saw a loss from Vanderbilt, but a strong show of Vanderbilt pride in the announcement of the Outstanding Senior Shun Ahmed from the top 10 finalists. 

The announcement came out, and I just stopped,” Ahmed said. “Things went silent for a little bit, and I was like ‘oh wait, that’s me!’”

Fellow finalist Ashwin Kumar expressed gratitude and appreciation for the award and its recognition.

“It is important to acknowledge that every single nominated senior was impressive because we all devoted so much time and effort to our passions,” Kumar said. 

Homecoming Weekend also featured a VSG Thrift Store and donation drive on Oct. 21 at the Kissam MPR, which they have been consistently hosting throughout the year.  The VPB blood drive also occurred on Oct. 21, with a total of 62 students signed up to donate blood, not including the walk-in donors. This service event was especially important considering the Red Cross emergency blood shortage due to COVID-19.