The hole where homecoming was approaches and no volume of virtual events can possibly fill it.

Homecoming week is, normally, a moment of pride.

A week in which regardless of if you’re struggling in that Biology class or your girlfriend just dumped you or you have no actual home to return to at all, you feel as though you’re not alone, and you are part of a larger family: the APSU Family.

Homecoming week is when we celebrate APSU and our togetherness within it, the uniting force that ties all of our disparate pieces together here on campus. Homecoming week is when APSU feels most like, well, home. But as we look towards a barren or at best incomplete Fall 2020 Homecoming Week in light of the risk of COVID-19, the APSU community could not be farther apart.

The virtual celebration this week accurately dubbed “Remembering Homecoming” created by the APSU Office of Alumni Relations is not a worthy or even meager replacement for traditional homecoming festivities or even week-before-homecoming festivities. Instead, it is a sadness tinged nostalgia trip looking back on homecomings that were actually fun.

The week is filled, in place of normal celebration, with award ceremonies and class reunions held virtually. I can’t even begin to make heads or tails of this “Virtual 5K” (Saturday, Oct. 10).

Perhaps these remote festivities are enough for APSU alumni, who have already had their years in the sun as a Gov; curled up with their friends by the bonfire, or huddled together in a packed bleacher, sweat smearing the face paint on their cheek as they cheer on the Govs football team during their Homecoming game. Maybe for them, the memories are enough.

But for the current APSU students, who will not be able to make those memories this homecoming, these hollow ones, held over Zoom, filled only with the space between us can hardly suffice. If anything, these virtual events just add insult to injury.

This semester, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not a celebratory one. Let’s not pretend it is, three bleacher seats away from one another, masks covering what were once smiles, watching our peers play a high contact sport that could render them sick.

Thin crowds whisper through the plaza where once were throngs of eager students sat shoulder to shoulder, dreaming of the homecoming parade and the band and the game and holding their hands up like monocles, united as Govs.

Now we stare at each other through a screen, and it’s supposed to be a fair alternative, but it’s not even close.