More than just school spirit: Homecoming T-shirts

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Sami Schwanke/Winonan

T-shirts are one of the many expressions of Homecoming school spirit, and there are lots of choices out there. Various T-shirt designs are provided by Winona State University, student clubs and entrepreneurs. The university’s theme this year is “Island City Luau.”

Student Activities Director Tracy Rahim said that each year’s theme is decided by the Homecoming committee as early as the previous year’s wrap-up meeting.

This year’s T-shirt was selected from student design submissions.

“The design contest was open to all students,” said Rahim. “We had awesome submissions this year. It was a tough decision process. The shirt needed to represent Winona State and the Homecoming theme and have no drug, alcohol or partying references, and be appealing to all genders, and be an original design.”

This is the third year that Winona State has designed official Homecoming T-shirts, presold at $7. After presale, the shirts are being turned over to the bookstore, where they will be available for students and alumni during Homecoming week.

“People want a T-shirt to remind them of Homecoming, but also a shirt that they can wear in front of their grandma,” Rahim said. “Students are happy to have positive messages.”

Rahim was also aware of student T-shirt designs and sales.

“We don’t go out searching for those [alternate shirts], but if it’s brought to our attention, we’ll do something about it,” Rahim said. “If they’re reserving Kryzsko tables, they have to follow campus policy.”

Winona State student Dee Togbah sold his Homecoming T-shirts at one of the Kryzsko tables. A friend designed the shirts, which read, “Take a Stand.” One of the designs had a beer keg on it.

“The original design has a keg, but I also have an alternative design,” Togbah said. “I wanted to promote something that students want: something that reminds them of Homecoming, but not about drinking.  I don’t sponsor irresponsible drinking, but it is a part of Homecoming culture.”

Togbah decided to donate all of the proceeds from the shirt sales to students affected by the downtown fire.

“I don’t usually make Homecoming shirts, but I felt like I should do something,” Togbah said. “I live two blocks away from where the fire happened. I offered space for people, but felt like I needed to do more. People lost a lot, and most people don’t understand, but I know what it means to suffer loss, being an immigrant refugee myself.”

One day, while manning his T-shirt table, Togbah was met with some vocal disapproval by a professor who took issue with the keg-designed shirt being sold in Kryszko. Togbah found himself having to defend the design.

“We’re just trying to help out; this isn’t about the other factors,” said Togbah.

Togbah didn’t have the only T-shirt that was trying to bring awareness to campus. Fighting for Our Rights and Gender Equality (FORGE) secretary Kaylee Jakubowski discussed FORGE’s Homecoming T-shirt, which reads, “Consent has no blurred lines” and “#RequestToUndress.”

“Most women’s rights activists hate the song [“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke],” said Jakubowski, “Because it OKs date rape and one of our purposes, as a club, is to eliminate that. It’s triggering to people who have been victimized. There are no blurred lines to consent.”

Though Jakubowski has had problems with sexist homecoming shirts in the past, she said she considered the designs of this year’s student entrepreneurs to be less problematic, references to alcohol included.

“They’ve been pretty tame this year,” Jakubowski said. “College kids are going to drink. There’s not a lot you can do about that.”

FORGE is preselling its T-shirts at $15 and plans to use the proceeds to bring women’s rights speakers to campus and to support its Take Back the Night event. This is a nationwide event that happens during the third week of April to raise awareness about sexual violence and assault.

“Most people are really excited about the shirts,” Jakubowski said. “We haven’t gotten any rude comments, but feedbacks mainly been from people in FORGE and the women’s and gender studies department. They’re really excited and want to get their hands on one.”

There’s a message in every Homecoming T-shirt. Whether they’re cheering for the Warriors, supporting those in need, speaking out or just having fun, students will be able to find their perfect fit for Homecoming week. After that, it’s time for a new wrap-up meeting, a new theme, and yes—a new T-shirt.

 

Contact Sami at [email protected]