Three weeks ago, I was going to write a passionate and researched letter to my campus' Panhellenic Council to advocate against future pomping for Homecoming. But I'm not so sure what to do now, because I can see the merits in pomping, too.
You see, the Homecoming (affectionately shortened to HOCO at my campus) season is upon us, and what that means for Fraternity and Sorority Life members (and other hard-working student organizations) is the infamous pomping season is upon us, too.
Pomping is the act of working with thousands of small sheets of tissue-like paper to create parade floats for the HOCO parade... which is before the big HOCO football game.
Pomping is a many part process. First, one has to make the tissue paper into a shape that can be glued onto the wooden slates that will make the parade float.
That means I would either ball up the thin tissue paper OR wrap the tissue paper around a pencil, then glue the tissue paper in such a way it holds the shape of a pencil. The second part of pomping is applying the tissue paper (ball pomp or pencil pomp) to the float.
This requires so much gorilla glue, our sorority house smells like it for a day or so after the parade.
The tissue paper costs thousands of dollars to order, the hours it takes to prepare and place the pomp on the parade float is excessive, and usually, people attempt to pull consecutive all-nighters Monday through Friday during HOCO week to make sure that float looks gorgeous at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.
"Why?" I have asked myself many times these past three years as my palms get itchy and red from balling up tissue paper for two hours straight.
"What was the point?" I asked myself sophomore year as I watched some cackling (yes, they were cackling, probably delirious from lack of sleep and patience) sorority sisters tear apart the float right after we paraded it proudly in front of our family and friends... even took pictures of it to post on Instagram and Twitter.
Surely we could use the money to paint more banners instead and have more walking parade floats. If we did that, we could use the extra budget money to donate to a canned food drive, a sock drive, a "back to school, help the teachers have enough tissue boxers for the upcoming cold season" drive... something to give more back to our local community.
Then we could spend less time pomping and more time studying for Midterms and get a full eight hours of sleep the night before the parade.
Even as I type these words, I realize the logic in my statements. I realize that fraternity boys wouldn't have to stress out about finding a trailer for the float or concern themselves with constructing it the week or so before the parade. I realize that sorority house Moms wouldn't have to clean up tissue paper accidentally glued to dining room floors (or heaven forbid, the carpet on the grand staircase). But then I think about some other facts that must be accounted for.
Having parades with intricate floats is a Homecoming tradition at most college campuses. It does impress, for at least thirty to forty-five minutes, the children, older family members, and the alumni who come to see the parade. It impresses me to see what other people can do artistically with wood, chicken wire, and thousands of tiny papers colored maroon, white, gold, black and brown. For example, someone created a football stadium last year for their float, and I thought it was the coolest thing.
Then I think about all the community that is built when 100+ people are crammed into a sorority house's basement as they listen to country music and share stories. When I was the New Member Educator for my sorority sophomore year, I took a poll with my girls at the end. A lot of them referenced Homecoming as one of their favorite activities, which I did not expect.
One doesn't expect people to like a task similar to what sweatshop workers do... especially if the location is a basement with little ventilation. But about 40% of my girls said that was the time they felt they belonged in the sorority... and honestly, I've felt that way, too.
I want to have the same feelings of gratefulness I experienced when I heard that two fraternity boys ended up sleeping on our couches because they had been pomping for fourteen hours straight... And YES I liked seeing those overly rambunctious fraternity boys step up and buy about 290 girls and boys pizza at 11 p.m. on the infamous "Pomp Night" to keep our morale up. I want memories like that, but I want them made in a less-pomp-filled environment.
If I had it my way, each sorority and fraternity would have two walking parade floats (dancing, music, a cute banner) and a car float (when just the car, like a convertible or truck, would do, is decorated). All of the money from each fraternity and sorority usually spent on pomping would automatically be donated to their specific philanthropies or an all FSL community chosen organization. If I had it my way, the fraternity and sorority homecoming pairings would have a dinner or another event to replace "Pomp Night" (the night before the parade). Maybe they could play yard games, eat some barbecue, quiz each other on their organizations' histories... basically, anything to have clean, sober fun while volunteered groups prepare the walking floats and paint the banners for the parade.
And this would be my compromise if people still really wanted to pomp. If I had it my way, two all FSL parade floats could be created - one for the boys, and one for the girls. Then, the die-hard pompers from each sorority and fraternity could volunteer (instead of being mandated to do it) to pomp as much as their hearts pleased.
I think I will write a letter to the Panhellenic Council after all, because I think we can have it both ways. I know the FSL community can bond with each other while doing a better job at spending our money on the right resources.
I only hope I'm not the only one who thinks that the FSL HOCO traditions can be improved for all parties involved.
Did I mention that if I had it my way, a lot of money from each fraternity and sorority pairing would be spent on buying candy and other goodies for the parade watchers (like koozies for their beverages)? (insert winky face)