It has to be a home for it to be a homecoming

When I think of going back to my home in Charlotte, North Carolina, I have flashbacks of the long exhausting drive through four states, and I get tense as I think of the thirty-minute period dodging cars in Atlanta. But I know I would do it again and again to be back in my home, sitting at the dinner table with my family talking over the day’s events, as our dog, Dixie, sniffs for dropped crumbs. When I go home, I get to go back to a feeling of comfort and acceptance in a place that was a stronghold of my past.

As I go through my last homecoming as a University of Alabama student, I wonder if my Tuscaloosa residence has become a home that I would later journey back to. After my friends have graduated and my favorite professors have left and all that is left is the University itself, will I still see it as a home that I can come back to?

I feel that every year there has been another article telling me that the University is not a home. The sorority houses are not homes to all, sexual assaults are on the rise, the administration has issues going on behind closed doors and let’s not even get started on assumed corruption in student voting.

I don’t mean to word these events in a way to belittle them, because they are all significant and need discussion on this campus. I word them like this because while they are concerning they have become exhaustingly repetitive. It makes you feel like this campus has been plagued by scandal and like it isn’t a place to feel comfortable and accepted.

Like many students coming to the end of their university experience, I have begun to reflect on how this place has affected me and what kind of person I would be if I had attended a different college. If I had stayed in my home state of North Carolina, what kind of values would I hold? And what kind of experience would I have had?

In my Charlotte household political debate was regular and encouraged. It pushed me to make decisions about what my values were and where I stand on certain issues.

The struggles that a family undergoes are what brings it close together, so I cannot deny that Alabama has helped me build a family with my peers as we work against some of the flaws in this institution. That incredible hope, and dedication to work to make this place better and leave it greater than we found it, is one of the reasons why I didn’t pack my bags and go back to North Carolina.

But this house is not yet a home. It is not yet a place where everyone is invited to the table and gets an equal part of this University of Alabama experience. So much work is left to be done after my class graduates, and after so many other classes graduate. I will come back to a homecoming in the future, to see the progress of the family that this university houses and to come celebrate in the parade and festivities of a university moving forward, one generation at a time.

Meghan Dorn is a senior majoring in public relations and political science. Her column runs biweekly.

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