First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Shaw, St. Augustine’s and N.C. A&T State universities can all have their homecomings any time they want to, even on the same day and weekend.
Nobody’s disputing that. My only question is, “Why would they?”
When I was driving to Raleigh last Saturday morning to see what was shaking at Shaw’s homecoming festivities, a friend from St. Augustine’s University called and asked if I were coming to that school’s festivities.
What? I checked my calendar – which is apparently something administrators from neither school nor the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association did – and realized they were occurring simultaneously. AT THE SAME TIME.
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It’s impossible to overstate how self-defeating it was for the two Raleigh-based schools to hold their annual festivities on the same weekend. They share some of the same resources and share the same fan base, as many marriages are composed of Shaw-St. Aug’s couplings.
Seven years ago, a consultant recommended that Shaw and St. Aug’s build and share a stadium. That would, theoretically, help ease the financial strain on both schools, right?
Hmmph. If they can’t share a calendar, they can’t be expected to share a stadium. Didn’t, one can ask, school administrators even talk to each other or glance at each other’s Facebook pages to see if there was a conflict with their own annual wang dang doodle?
‘It’s just crazy’
“Obviously not,” Mark Evans said, yelling to be heard above the shouted greetings, deejay-spun records and the band on the nearby football field on St. Aug’s campus Saturday.
Evans, a 1986 St. Aug’s alum who said he has many friends at Shaw, said of the conflict, “It’s just crazy. And wrong. We need something to unite the city and the schools.” He was one of a dozen people I talked to on both campuses who said they wanted to support the other school, but couldn’t.
One would think that out of respect for an HBCU institution facing the same rising costs and declining enrollment as his does, Shaw’s president, for instance, would have picked up the telly and found out when St. Aug’s was planning to bring to town hundreds, perhaps thousands, of its alumni, their families and just people who like a celebration.
Shaw prez: Look, homes. We’re celebrating our 150th anniversary on that weekend. Let us have that, and y’all take the next one. Or vice versa.
If a concern for the well-being of their rival sounds too kumbaya-ish, then they should have averted a conflict for the basest, most understandable reason – self-preservation.
Cooperation is possible: Both schools do participate in something called CRC – Cooperating Raleigh Colleges – which, St. Aug’s Assistant to the Provost Vicki Wilson said, allows students at area universities to take classes at other schools if their alma mater doesn’t offer them.
Not again next year
As for the homecoming snafu, St. Augustine’s interim President Everett Ward vowed, “We’re not going to make that mistake next year. I’ve already called Faulcon” – Shaw University interim President Gaddis Faulcon – to coordinate next year’s festivities and make sure their respective homecomings won’t go head-to-head.
“This was planned by the previous administration,” Ward told me as he tried to walk across an outdoor basketball court that was serving as a tailgating venue during the homecoming football game. I say “tried” because it took him more than 30 minutes as alumni and students stopped him every few feet to wish him success, to shake his hand or share a hug.
“My mother went to Shaw, and my father went to St. Aug’s,” he said, “so I don’t want to be responsible for creating that divide” and forcing other inter-school couples to have to decide whose homecoming they’d attend.