‘Bigger and better’: NIU kicks off 115th homecoming


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2021 was the year of Huskie Football. We took home the MAC 2021 Championship trophy after snatching a 41-23 victory over Kent State.

NIU’s 115th annual homecoming is here! Homecoming will take place Monday through Sunday.

The homecoming football game takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Oct. 8 vs. Tulsa. In addition to the game, there are tons of events and activities for students to watch or participate in throughout the week.

After what NIU saw as a disappointing last two homecomings, the homecoming planning committee has worked very hard to make this homecoming a special and memorable one.

To learn some more about the planning of homecoming week, Matt Streb, chief of staff to the NIU president and chairman of the homecoming planning committee, shared his thoughts.

“Because of the pandemic and some other things, we didn’t think that homecoming had the same type of splash on campus,” Streb said.

In order to try to improve homecoming this year, Streb and the rest of the homecoming planning committee have come up with over 40 events during the week that students can participate in.

“We really have tried to plan an event for everybody,” Streb said. He also said that during homecoming week, you have students, staff, faculty, alumni and families all on campus, so the committee tried to plan events that are family-friendly and everyone can get involved in.

Streb said there has been a lot of excitement building up for homecoming. He mentioned that there were several NIU alumni at the football game vs. Kentucky last weekend, and many of them were talking about the upcoming homecoming week.

“We’ve been more intentional and more focused on our planning,” Streb said. Streb added that by being more focused on their planning, the committee was able to arrange many more events for this year’s homecoming than in previous years. “We have an incredible team of several dozen people,” Streb said.

The most difficult part of homecoming planning is creating activities that everyone can enjoy together, but Streb noted that the committee has done a great job of overcoming this challenge.

“Homecoming is an opportunity for our entire community to express their Huskie pride,” Streb said. He said when homecoming planning is done right, there should be a buzz around campus for the entire week. Feeling that buzz and hearing everyone talk about homecoming is his favorite part of homecoming planning.

Meg Junk, executive director of student involvement, has helped plan the last four homecomings.

“It wasn’t just us saying the students want to see more, it was all the way up to the vice president and president,” Junk said. She mentioned that one reason for going above and beyond this year was because the students, the committee, and the vice president and president all felt it was necessary.

“The engagement from the students is at a whole new level. We haven’t seen this type of engagement for ten years,” Junk said. She said that this student engagement has been a big reason as to why NIU has been able to arrange more events this year and has made the planning process a little easier.

Junk said that the toughest parts and her favorite parts of homecoming planning go hand in hand.

“We want to do so many things and have all of these ideas, and it really comes down to figuring out what we can manage and having to narrow that list down,” Junk said. She added that there is not always enough time to coordinate all of the events that the committee would like to.

“We need to make this bigger and better than in years past,” Junk said. She said that the hope is to build on this year’s homecoming and to continue to improve homecoming for years to come.

“We encourage students, whether they’re a first-year, a senior, whether they’ve gone through homecoming before, whether they’re on a team or not, to come out to at least one thing and feel that Huskie spirit and NIU pride,” Junk said.