Homecoming is one of the largest and longest-running traditions on the UW campus, but some alumni and students have never felt especially at home during Homecoming.
It’s a feeling that a campus coalition led by the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) is working to change, one inclusive festivity at a time. In 2013, more than 170 attendees participated in the first Multicultural Homecoming, and this year the event is poised to expand.
“Last year was only the beginning of what we hope will become a more extensive dialogue about improving multicultural alumni engagement with the UW and celebrating diversity efforts across the university landscape,” says Tracy Williams-Maclin, the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s director of diversity and inclusion. “There’s a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm around the continuation of that mission this year.”
Multicultural Homecoming is a weekend-long event that offers a suite of activities designed to encourage students and alumni from diverse backgrounds to celebrate and network together. Organizers hope that fostering a stronger sense of community among diverse alumni will encourage more multicultural participation in broader Homecoming activities and, by extension, more involvement on campus in general.
“Alumni of color can assist the university in areas of student recruitment, mentoring, career networking, volunteer service and philanthropy,” says Candace McDowell ’73, founding director and director emerita of the UW Multicultural Student Center, who now oversees the coordination of Multicultural Homecoming. “[This event] provides an opportunity for the university to build a strong culture of engagement, commitment and philanthropy among multicultural alumni.”
Activities during the 2014 Multicultural Homecoming weekend will include a welcome reception, networking event for students and alumni, alumni panel discussions, game-watch parties, special campus tours and more.
“Alumni of color [can] relive their campus memories by reconnecting with programs and organizations that were part of their student experience,” McDowell says. “All are enriched when we contribute to and learn from a community composed of people from other backgrounds and beliefs.”
WAA’s campus partners include First Wave, Latino/Latina Student Association, LGTBQ Association, Multicultural Student Center, National Pan-Hellenic Council/Black Greeks, Office of the Chancellor, Office of the Vice Provost & Chief Diversity Officer, PEOPLE Program, POSSE Program, UW Office of Diversity and Wunk Sheek.