In a show of university spirit, Portland State University students attended the homecoming dance following the Vikings football game on Saturday evening at Smith Memorial Student Union.
The party was an attempt to create a feeling of interconnection among the student body despite the campus being labeled “nontraditional.”
Addressing that issue, organizer and student leader Chase LoGreco stated that creating student involvement on campus was “the biggest challenge.”
“How do you communicate effectively with students in what I hate to term as a nontraditional campus?” he asked.
The initial conception of the idea of a homecoming dance struck LoGreco during the orientation leader class, where it was generally agreed upon the campus lacked traditional events that invoke school spirit and loyalty.
LoGreco was further inspired by speakers during the orientation, including a speech from Dr. Douglas Samuels, vice provost of Student Affairs, concerning the need for creating a university campus catering to college spirit and involvement.
Describing his biggest problem as funding, LoGreco said the idea was put into action in July, 2002. The problem was solved by joining hands with the student group V-Team, a marketing internship with the Portland State athletics department.
“In spite of the enthusiasm for the event, it almost did not happen since the Smith Memorial Student Union had problems with the timing of the event and was late for operational activities,” LoGreco said. “Luckily we were able to work it out”
The party opened its doors at 10 p.m. on Saturday evening at the SMSU ballroom and welcomed a steady stream of attendees throughout the evening.
Students walked into a room decorated with Viking memorabilia. Music was provided by Tau Kappa Epsilon. DJ Kevin Jordan entertained the crowd with music from a variety of genres, making sure the dance floor remained at full capacity.
“This is great,” said Taryn Allen, a senior. “It really helps people on campus connect in college.”
“I agree. It’s really great that a lot people showed up. I definitely want to see it again next year,” said Sarah Mar, a sophomore.
The V-Team – consisting of LoGreco, Erin Ford, Jadira Ruiz, Josh Stewart, Paul Bronleewe and Jamie Sorensen – was on hand at the door to welcome guests to Portland State’s first homecoming dance in 33 years.
Expressing excitement and enthusiasm with their first attempt at an event of this magnitude and nature, Ford and Sorensen described the event as “a great opportunity” for the student community to meet and have fun.
Interest in the event sparked a total ticket sale of 184, with an additional 20 people entering with the free tickets they received during a pep rally earlier in the week held by the Crew team.
“To break even, we needed to sell 125 tickets,” said LoGreco.
The money generated from the event will be recycled for future events promoted by the V-Team.
“It’s a good event, even though we lost [the football game],” said Michael Habtemariam, co-coordinator of the Black Cultural Affairs Board. “This is not a traditional university to start something like this, so this is good. It brings everyone together.”
“I think it’s awesome,” Andrea Nevill said. “Portland State University should have more events that promote school spirit. This is the first school dance I’ve attended.”
The last homecoming dance was held in 1968. Ironically, the Vikings played the Montana Grizzlies on that occasion, as well, and lost. The homecoming queen that year was Mary Webb, who now teaches at Portland Community College.
LoGreco expressed hope that next year the event can be repeated, with Webb crowning the 2003 Portland State homecoming queen.
“It’s time for her to pass the crown after 33 years,” LoGreco said.
The idea was met with excitement from Saturday night’s attendees, who wished to see the event take on an annual presence.