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A Tradition in Peril

Homecoming experienced many difficulties in the 1960s and early 1970s. As collegiate culture underwent a dramatic change in attitudes and expectations, many students declared Homecoming "irrelevant." Other students complained that it was a "Greek event" that was of little interest to those who were not members of a sorority or fraternity.

Even when students and alumni attended, much of the celebration's cohesiveness was lost. By 1960 the alumni, perhaps tired of their children's rock 'n' roll, began to hold a separate dance. Many fraternities and sororities followed suit. With so many separate events, the all-campus dance began to lose money. It was abandoned in 1974. Other traditions also began to weaken. The Friday night pep rally was sparsely attended. The traditional bonfire fell victim to a Mount Pleasant city ordinance banning outdoor burning. Although supporters of Homecoming soldiered on, it was clear that the event was in trouble.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s various experiments were attempted to reinterest students in the event. For example, a rock concert was added to the weekend activities. In 1971 the event was radically recast as a "Homecoming Carnival." A carnival came to campus for the week. The parade was canceled. The Homecoming queen was renamed "Miss CMU." Despite these efforts student interest lagged, and it seemed possible that Homecoming would become only a memory.