Message from the President: Update on Homecoming

President Downs graphic

Students, Faculty and Staff,

In 2019, NSU administration decided to begin phasing out the term Gypsy Days, opting instead for the generic term, homecoming. The reason for this change was due to the disconnect between our goal of building an inclusive campus culture, attentive to belonging and collegiality, with a term that many today recognize as offensive to a marginalized population.

We are in the process of replacing all remaining website references of our former name to the current placeholder of homecoming, with the exception of archival materials and historical references.

You may or may not have noticed this change, especially considering the circumstances surrounding the past two annual events, with winter weather and COVID-19. This gradual phase-out was intentional, as it can take years and decades to change tradition, especially one that started more than a century ago.

Now, the Student Homecoming Committee, through Student Government, has begun exploring the process of creating a new and contemporary, Northern-specific name for our homecoming event. I encourage their actions and support their initiatives. It’s time for us to forge a new path that celebrates Northern’s history and its bright future, while building an inclusive campus for all, and I’m proud that our students are leading us forward. They have asked that I share this message with all of you today.

Assuming a resolution is passed by Student Government, I would then ask Faculty Senate to take up the issue of renaming homecoming. If both bodies concur on this renaming, NSU senior leadership will support a name change through an all-inclusive process that considers feedback, and potentially votes, of students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and other campus stakeholders.

I want to recognize that everyone has the First Amendment right to freely express themselves in a peaceful manner. With that being said, I hope everyone takes time to contemplate why this name change is essential. Many advocacy organizations consider the current name of our homecoming to be a harmful term. The European Network Against Racism website states that this word, among others, has “taken a derogatory connotation in very many languages.”

Northern’s homecoming has a long and rich history, but it was never about the name. It’s the people – students, faculty, staff, alumni and community – that make our homecoming special. I know this tradition of coming together and celebrating Northern will continue for years to come!

Go Wolves!

-President Downs