This year’s Cirque de Pirates homecoming began on Sunday, bringing new events to East Carolina University’s homecoming creating new traditions. The history of homecoming at ECU is a long one, with some less than favorable traditions.
The first homecoming at ECU took place in 1941, but due to World War II was not held again until 1946. The 1946 homecoming was a veterans’ homecoming, held to welcome alumni veterans back to campus.
A Welcome Veterans section in The Teco Echo, East Carolina Teachers’ College student newspaper, included letters from the Acting President, President of the Veterans Club, Chairman of Committee and Editor of the Teco Echo.
Editor of The Teco Echo Joe Tew wrote a letter on behalf of the Teco Echo staff published in the newspaper, to welcome veterans to East Carolina Teachers’ College.
“We are looking forward to your visit and want you to feel as much at home as you did during your years of study here. All of us on the staff will be available and happy to assist you in any way that we can. Would also like to say thanks for the letters and cards that you have sent. Keep them coming for we like to get them. Enjoy yourself and let us know if we can help,” Tew wrote.
In 1961, ECU’s homecoming theme was Down in Dixie, according to East Carolinian, the student newspaper for East Carolina College.
At this homecoming, floats were decorated in cotton and Theta Chi’s homecoming float was set on fire. People dressed as Ku Klux Klan members and feathered an “Elon tar bather,” as the game was against Elon that year. The then Chancellor Leo W. Jenkins dressed in a confederate uniform for the homecoming parade.
There was student organization, East Carolina Gay Community (ECGC) at ECU in the late 70’s and early 80’s Grad Assistant in the University Archives, Zachary Dale said. The Newman Center provided the students shelter and the nuns at the Newman Center advised the organization.
Tau Kappa Epsilon did not like the ECGC being at the Newman Center, according to Dale. In 1981 TKE harassed students outside the Newman Center by yelling, throwing items at students and creating a “hostile” environment.
“‘82, ‘83, it was like an exact year later, it started again but this time the Tau Kappa Epsilon’s tore off the paneling of the Newman Center’s homecoming float and burned it in their front yard and when the nuns complained basically the TKE gave a half apology and nobody got in trouble despite that probably being considered a hate crime,” Dale said.