featuresApril 20, 2024
Located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University is rich in traditions that are cherished by students, alumni and the local community. Traditions range from day-to-day customs to the annual Homecoming celebration.
Hannah Schellman ~ Arrow Reporter
story image illustation
Graphic by Kora Siebert

Located in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University is rich in traditions that are cherished by students, alumni and the local community. Traditions range from day-to-day customs to the annual Homecoming celebration.

One of the biggest and most celebrated traditions of the Southeast Missouri area is the annual SEMO Homecoming celebration, which hosts a competition among Greek life and a football game day celebration with a parade to kick off the day of festivities.

Each year, alumni from all over the country return to their alma mater to reconnect with old friends, participate in the Homecoming parade, and cheer on the Redhawks at the football game. Along with past students, current students look forward to this long-rooted tradition each year.

Logan Schwarz, a student in graduate school studying Psychology Industrial-Organizational Psychology graduate program, holds Homecoming close to her heart.

Schwarz says her favorite memory as an undergraduate at SEMO is Homecoming.

“I loved seeing the community come together to celebrate SEMO. Being involved in Greek life during Homecoming was the best with all the different activities, games, and competitions.” Schwarz said.

The Homecoming parade runs up Broadway Street, as parade goers see handmade floats takeover the streets of Southeast’s area and campus. The floats honor the traditions and pride held at the university. The long months prior are spent crafting and building the floats, and members of Greek life take pride in their work.

This tradition did not appear overnight and this is why SEMO holds so much joy in a day of Redhawk festivities. Southeast’s Homecoming tradition dates back to the early 1920s when it was first established to bring together alumni, current students, and the community to celebrate the university’s pride and spirit.

“Everyone really comes together to celebrate Homecoming, which is just so fun!” Schwarz remarked.

Over the years, Homecoming at Southeast Missouri State University has evolved into a highly anticipated event that features a variety of activities. The parade, pep rallies, tailgating activities, and the football game have all become integral parts of the tradition at SEMO.

Southeast Alumni and Digital Marketing Strategist, Camryn Whitmore holds traditions close to her heart. In her time at SEMO, Whitmore studied Marketing and Communications: Advertising with a minor in Integrated Marketing Communications. Whitmore graduated in 2022 and moved on to work for Southeast with the marketing team.

Whitmore reminisced on her time at SEMO and more specifically, her time spent in Greek life.

“I was active in Greek life as an Alpha Phi sorority member. Recruitment season was always my absolute favorite tradition because it fostered such a strong sense of pride within the university.” Whitmore said.

Traditions in Greek life are held strong by members of the university and incorporate a sense of community and welcoming for fellow students.

“Events like the Ice Cream Pig Out and Move-In Bash during opening week as a Southeast employee have been pretty cool to watch as an alum. Seeing the freshmen experience it all for the first time brings back great memories.” Whitmore said.

In addition to traditions surrounding student life, SEMO puts on events throughout the year to encourage students in their academics and extracurriculars. The Late Night Breakfast during finals week is held bi-annually and seems to be a big hit among students.

“The Late Night Breakfast event is a great way to let go and take a break amidst all the stress of exams.” Whitmore said.

As a staff member herself, Whitmore would love to see more buzz around attending SEMO’s sports games.

“Entry is free with your Southeast ID, so why not, right? Looking back, I wish I’d gone to more games when I was a student here.” Whitmore said.

While the fun of sports, events, and festivities brings the Southeast community together, there are so many more historical traditions that lie here at SEMO.

The iconic Academic Hall dome at Southeast Missouri State University symbolizes tradition and excellence on campus. Academic Hall, originally constructed in 1906, has served as a historic landmark and the centerpiece of the university’s campus in Cape Girardeau.

Many students consider touching the dome of Academic Hall for good luck to be a deep-rooted tradition on campus. Some believe that by reaching up and touching the dome, their success will flourish in their academic endeavors.

MBA student with an Accounting Emphasis, Karissa Klocke touches on her own personal experiences at SEMO. Karissa took a tour of the Academic Hall Dome during one of SEMO’s parent weekends.

The dome tours entail presentations by various speakers, and tour goers view the architecture while learning about the history and fast facts about the dome that are beyond the knowledge of everyday students.

“My favorite fact in this presentation was how risky some people were in order to sign their own names in the dome. Back in the day, people trusted those beams way more than I would have!” Klocke said.

Klocke explains that the catwalk in the dome can only hold so many people at once, but when it is your turn, you are free to look, take pictures and, most importantly, sign your name in the dome.

“The coolest part about going up in the Academic Dome is being able to sign your name into history. There are famous signatures in there, and now you are one of them!” Karissa said.

According to SEMO’s website, names of historical importance, such as Anderson Cooper, Ozzie Smith and Shawn Johnson East, all left their mark in the famous SEMO dome.

While Karissa remarked on her time touring the Dome, she also spoke on some of her student experiences that she counts as memorable.

When snowfall hits SEMO, the students hit Parker Hill to partake in sledding, snowball fights, and snow day memories. Parker Hill is a host to many fun SEMO traditions.

“Anything that involved sliding down Parker Hill, I was there. From sledding to the waterslide during Greek Week, I always enjoyed partaking in those activities. You don’t realize how steep the hill is until you are flying down it on your stomach.” Klocke said.

In a world of traditions, Southeast Missouri State University offers a variety of experiences for students. Students may not even realize they are continuing a tradition at Southeast, but many have gone on for decades and more time to come.

Whether it be watching a Homecoming parade with your college roommates, grabbing a sled and hitting Parker Field for snow day adventures, or signing your name next to someone famous in the Academic Hall Dome, tradition lies heavy here at SEMO.