Students meandered around the convention hall on Oct. 26 as they got in last minute practice before the Spurs & Struts event began. As the lights powered on, music boomed and people cheered for their friends on the stage of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
The frenzy of Spurs & Struts is a part of one of Homecoming week's major events that showcases USC's Greek organizations in a dance competition where fraternities and sororities team up to battle it out.
This is just one of the many Homecoming events in which USC's Greek life takes center stage and unites Greek organizations and their alumni, student leaders say.
USC's Homecoming brought a week-long, university-wide celebration to campus that included major events such as Spurs & Struts and the NPHC Stroll-Off.
The week of events started with Cockstock on Friday, Oct. 21, and ended with a Homecoming tailgate with Substance Abuse Prevention and Education (SAPE) on Saturday, Oct. 29. The week was comprised of free events including banner painting, a powderpuff football tournament and a block party.
Julianna Tyndall, this year's president of Homecoming and a fourth-year marketing student, said Homecoming is an opportunity for students and organizations to join in on the fun.
“It’s the one time all year that all students are together celebrating the same thing and then also alumni are coming back and celebrating," Tyndall said.
Spurs & Struts is particularly unifying and collaborative for Greek organizations on campus, according to Lauren Reasoner, a second-year visual communications student and sister of Alpha Gamma Delta who has participated in Spurs and Struts multiple times.
“Even if we don’t win, it’s really not about winning ... It’s more about just getting to know the other organizations on campus,” Reasoner said.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council’s Stroll-Off on Oct. 27 similarly used performance artistry and collaboration to showcase the talents of the Black community at USC. Strolling is a form of dance that is common within the Black community and used to demonstrate unity and togetherness as well as African culture and pride.
Devin Williams, the president of NPHC and a fourth-year sociology student, spoke about the competitive, yet genial, spirit of Stroll-Off.
“Yes, it is a competition, and everybody wants to win," Williams said. "But at the end of the day, it’s fun cheering on your friends."
Williams said there is a greater importance and impact of NPHC participating in Homecoming week as a mostly Black community at a predominantly white institution.
“It's really important to still bring the African American culture to the campus and educate those who might not be too familiar with it,” Williams said.
Williams said Greek organizations, especially NPHC, are motivated to participate in Homecoming.
“(Greek organizations) want to keep the tradition alive ... bringing the culture to campus and making sure we have that same experience even as minorities," Williams said.
Student leaders said Homecoming isn’t only about or for the current students on USC’s campus, but it is also for alumni. USC welcomed back former Gamecocks to enjoy a variety of activities at the university, such as the Richard T. Greener Scholarship Breakfast and the Homecoming Tailgate Party.
Reasoner said the recent visits from former Alpha Gamma Delta sisters were not only enjoyable, but they reminded her that Homecoming is a time to reflect on her sorority’s alumni history and see how sisters are still connected, even after graduation.
NPHC members also said they enjoyed seeing alumni during Homecoming week.
“They’re watching you do what they were doing when they were in school, so it’s really welcoming and it is a very uniting experience,” Williams said.
Williams said being a part of Greek organizations fosters a sense of belonging and a lifelong commitment that is evident to current and former members alike.
"It’s really like just a big family reunion," Williams said.
Even with the emphasis Homecoming puts on Greek organizations and alumni, it's for all Gamecocks, too, Tyndall said.
“We love having Greek organizations involved in it — they always bring so much energy and so much fun – but we also want to kind of expand and reach the entire student body,” Tyndall said.
Applications for Homecoming 2023's executive board and leadership team, the groups that help plan and coordinate the week's events, opened on Oct. 31 and will close on Nov. 4 and Nov. 10, respectively.