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MSU is home to many: farmers, architects, engineers and artists alike. With different classes, schedules and social groups, it can be hard to connect to one another, but there are few occasions that bring the whole university together like Homecoming week. Excitement buzzes in the air as the leaves fall and we kick off into a week of events and fun. 

This year is no exception. For the first time since 2019, Associated Students of Montana State University (ASMSU), the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) and the MSU Alumni Foundation (MSUAF) are bringing back in person Homecoming events. The atmosphere on campus seems to finally be returning to normal, a shift we saw brewing during the Gold Rush game at the beginning of the semester.

In an exclusive interview with the Exponent, the MSUAF Director of Alumni Engagement Reunion and Common Groups Jennifer Poser-Hayden stressed the importance of Homecoming to Montana State and the Bozeman community. “Homecoming is the return of MSU alumni to their home, Montana State,” Poser-Hayden said. “It is a weekend that brings people back together after not seeing one another for years.”

In a very fitting manner, the Homecoming theme this year is “Bobcat Family Reunion.” After two years of being separated from Bozeman culture and quite literally separated from one another, a celebration of reuniting has never been more appropriate. 

The MSUAF plays a part of the planning process for the events that occur during Homecoming week. “The Alumni Foundation works to create and market events that draw alumni back to campus over the weekend,” Poser-Hayden said. “That might mean working with reunion groups or colleges to implement college alumni award events held in conjunction with Homecoming.” Poser-Hayden also stressed that the MSUAF is just “one small piece” in the planning of Homecoming and commended the student body of MSU for events like the lighting of the ‘M’ and the annual parade that occurs in downtown Bozeman every year. 

Commencing the long list of Homecoming events, on Monday, Oct. 4, MSU lit the ‘M,’ an annual event that has been going on for almost a decade. For this, volunteers hike the ‘M’ Trail with LEDs to light up the ‘M’ on the hill and share the joy of Homecoming with the rest of the city. 

Wednesday marked the next big event with an all-campus barbecue. From 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. students were served free barbecue on the Centennial Mall and heard introductions from all of the Homecoming ambassador candidates. This year, the candidates will be showcased in three different platforms: candidates of involvement, leadership and service. Each pillar represents the best of MSU and students can vote on who they think is the most deserving of the title. Voting is open until Friday, Oct. 8. 

Throughout the week, Poser-Hayden and the MSUAF also urges Homecoming revelers to participate in the “Homecoming Selfie.” 

“We encourage everyone, students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans, to stop by the MSU Alumni Foundation (located at 1501 South 11th Ave.) and take a selfie with our Homecoming yard sign,” Poser-Hayden stated. “Share your Bobcat spirit on social media using the hashtag  #MSUSelfie21. At the end of the week, we will be giving out some Bobcat Swag to those that posted photos.” 

Poser-Hayden shared that another great way to get involved in the Homecoming festivities is to attend the pep rally on Friday, Oct. 8, hosted by the Downtown Bozeman Partnership. “The event includes Coach Vigen, Spirit of the West Marching Band, MSU Spirit Squad and the Homecoming Ambassadors! There will also be a live DJ, free refreshments,  prizes and more! It is incredible that the community puts on this event just for MSU,” Poser-Hayden said. 

Closing out the week is the Homecoming Football Game that brings the entire Bobcat family back to Bobcat Stadium. The football game will be a cap on a week packed full of events for students, alumni and the Bobcat faithful to display their appreciation for MSU and the Bozeman community. 

When asked to provide a Homecoming score prediction, Poser-Hayden offered a simple and straight to the point answer “30-10, Cats win of course!” 

The 10th ranked Cats (3-1, 2-0 Big Sky) will take on the Cal Poly Mustangs (1-4, 0-2) on Saturday, Oct. 9, at  2 p.m. Although their record may indicate a struggling team, Bobcat Head Football Coach Brent Vigen still has respect for the Mustang football program, as they are in the middle of a rebuild. “A real consistent program that can recruit good athletes, very smart athletes,” Vigen said Monday, Oct. 4. “I know they’re a team that, because of all that, is very dangerous.”

In preparation for the big game, Vigen hinted at the opportunity for five Cal Poly quarterbacks to see the field. He stressed that the five Mustang quarterbacks must be defended differently and will potentially make it more difficult for the MSU defense to get settled into the game. Throughout the season, the Bobcat defense has been among the nation’s top 10 in fewest points and yards allowed. “It’s a challenge,” Vigen said. “They’re all a little bit different with how you defend them, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are.”

Be sure to check out this week’s events and support the football team as they make a push to win a Big Sky Conference championship. Welcome home and go Cats!