As the only women’s college in the Atlanta University Center, home to the largest consortium of African-Americans in higher education in the U.S., Spelman College definitely stands out. Between its super spirited student body and its old (yet charming) academic buildings, Spelman carved its own niche in the world. The university stands out even more when you consider all the incredible events that take place on campus. From Market Friday to Reunion, Spelman College offers some of the best and most unique happenings you can find on a college campus.
Let’s dive into some of the very best events at Spelman College.
If you had fun at homecoming in high school, just wait until you get to college. Sure, every university around the nation claims to host the best homecoming celebration in the country, but Spelman actually tells the truth. We join forces with Morehouse College, a men’s HBCU (historically black college or university), to create the most epic homecoming experience ever. Thousands of Morehouse and Spelman alumni come together each year to celebrate their alma mater with their peers and the rest of the Spel-House community. Anyone and everyone comes out to support the Maroon Tigers as they face off in the B.T. Harvey Stadium. You can find people both young and old socializing with old and new friends. Most importantly, everyone gets ready to party-hardy. Students can meet celebrities and play crazy drinking games, like Most Likely and Kings Cup. Homecoming is like a family reunion, if the family reunion included only your favorite aunts and uncles and coolest cousins.
2. Founder’s Day
Everyone loves Founder’s Day. Founder’s Day provides everyone from faculty and administration, students and support staff on campus with a day filled with love, support and mutual respect. This event honors Harriet E. Giles and Sophia B. Packard, the founding mothers of Spelman. After starting Spelman Baptist Female Seminary in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church, Giles and Packard dedicated themselves to the education of young black women. Their legacy lives on today, and Founder’s Day serves as Spelman’s way of honoring them and the achievements of subsequent generations of Spelman students. “Founder’s Day is a reminder of all that Spelman is and has the potential to be. I like seeing carefree Spelmanites, basking in the sun and the company of their Spelman siblings,” Spelman College junior Abeo Chimeka-Tisdale said. As with most events on Spelman’s campus, food and fun surrounds Founder’s Day. Plus some awesome inflatable water slides and obstacle courses. Living the college life doesn’t mean you can’t act like a kid sometimes.
3. Market Friday
Imagine your school hosting a huge outdoor market. You could find vendors selling items like jewelry, clothing and other accessories while students chat and laugh with one another. Sounds fun, right? If you said yes, you’d absolutely love Market Friday on Spelman’s campus. This event blasts loud, rhythmic music throughout Lower Manley, the campus student center, all while the smell of deliciously fried foods wafts through the air. Market Friday, as the name suggests, takes place every Friday of the school year (unless there is inclement weather or some other amazing event happening on campus). “Market Friday is home to fresh pedicures, Brazilian bundles and a DJ playing music nonstop. It’s the place where all organizations dress in their paraphernalia and fraternize with people they haven’t seen the entire week. It’s the one time of the week where music, fashion, and community is celebrated with so much enjoyment,” SC senior Christiana McClain said. Market Friday provides a metaphorical watering-hole vibe where students all over the AUC meet up and hang out. Plus, it gives local Black-owned businesses opportunities to sell their products.
4. Research Day
I’ll tell you a pretty public secret—Spelman students are HUGE nerds. This explains why Research Day remains such an important event on campus. It allows students the opportunity to conduct and present their own research to their peers, professors and other visiting professionals. Research Day encourages students to discuss and debate a variety of subjects like climate change and water resources sustainability in an academic atmosphere other than the classroom. “Research Day is important because it offers students the ability to engage in academia while in undergrad, and it exposes us to the reality of research. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate the things we work the hardest to accomplish,” SC senior Ashlee Gordon said. Research Day also gives students a taste of the expectations that await them as researchers and scientists beyond Spelman’s gates. The best part? It prepares students for graduate school and other post-undergraduate options. Just because you see the word “research” in the event name, it doesn’t mean only STEM students can attend. Students that major in Social Sciences and Humanities can participate, too.
5. Welcome Back Jam
Going back to school after a long summer break always sucks. Readjusting to class schedules and weird food in the dining halls can really blow any residual excitement or relaxation felt while on vacation. That’s where Spelman’s Welcome Back Jam comes into play. This event hosts another huge party the college throws to welcome students back to campus. Get excited for the upcoming semester by filling up on free snacks from food vendors. Jam out to a DJ playing the current hits on the Oval, a huge, grassy lawn at the center of campus. The Welcome Back Jam serves as one of Spelman’s best events for students. “I love the Welcome Back Jam. It really sets the tone for the entire school year and it’s the first time that you get to see everyone in one place after getting back from the summer,” SC sophomore Deba Uadiale said.
6. Miss Spelman Pageant
C’mon, who doesn’t love Miss Congeniality? The Miss Spelman Pageant, arguably the most popular and prestigious pageant on campus, draws in students from all over the AUC to bear witness. The pageant asks a lot of its contestants, including showing off a personal talent and answering questions in a public Q&A interview. The Miss Spelman title comes with on-campus fame and acclaim, as well as the responsibility of representing all of Spelman College. The winner continually promotes the ideals of academic excellence, ethical leadership, appreciation of diverse cultures and commitment to positive social change. Talk about a ton to remember. Spelman students that choose to compete in the Miss Spelman pageant sacrifice their time and energy to participate. Even if you don’t see yourself as the pageant type, the Miss Spelman Pageant offers quality entertainment for anyone.
7. Pride Week
Spelman’s not shy when it comes to its large LGBTQ community. The community brings a diverse perspective to an already unique college experience. Along with other schools in the AUC, Spelman’s Pride Week helps its queer student body celebrate their differences in the coolest of ways; campus favorites include the Drag Show and Game Night. “The best events on campus happen during Pride Week. It’s an entire week of resistance, joy and creation. Events like chalking the campus and Queer Prom give students an opportunity to be in queer spaces which would otherwise uphold the heteronormative standard of our school,” SC ‘17 Pride Week’s impact allows the campus to support gender and sexuality equality, especially during difficult times for LGBTQ people.
Graduation commemorates not only the graduates, but the many, many women who paved the way for future generations of Spelman students. For example, the March Through the Arch, led by Spelman alumnae, symbolizes the transition from Spelman student to Spelman graduate. Graduates leave school to effect change in the world beyond the campus gates. Commencement really messes with your emotions, trust me. “Until this point, the most important part of planning for my future has been getting a degree. I am even more honored to get my degree from Spelman. While I am so excited to see what the next part of my journey holds, I am also nervous. Fortunately, I know that Spelman has prepared me well,” Spelman senior Ciara Johnson said. But commencement isn’t all sappy. The Senior Soirée, the last official gathering of the graduating class before graduation, provides a space in which soon-to-be graduates can relish in their happiness and accomplishments before finally graduating. The Soirée always takes place in front of a beautiful backdrop like the Atlanta Botanical Garden or the Georgia Aquarium.
Everyone looks forward to their college reunion. Much like commencement, the reunion serves as a way to connect Spelman alumnae. The college invites alumnae of specific grad years to return to campus, usually within five-year increments. This event provides a time for remembrance and reconnection, especially those who lost contact with their peers for literal decades. Several other events mark Reunion, such as the True Blue Gala and the Sisterhood Breakfast, gatherings which honor the lives and accomplishments of Spelman women even after they have graduated. Every SC student hopes to return to the institution for their Reunion, the pinnacle of the Spelman experience.
10. New Student Orientation
Newly-admitted Spelman students know the very first event you participate in is New Student Orientation. As a week-long program that takes place right before the start of the school year, NSO seeks to acclimate accepted students to life in the AUC. NSO maintains many different moving parts, including Olive Branch, a huge block party including the freshmen class from each institution in the AUC, and the infamous Wake Up. The Wake Up serves as a rite of passage for every student that makes the decision to attend Spelman. It involves being woken up before dawn, lined up outside and walked down to the campus chapel, Sister’s Chapel. The event ends with the ultimate show of solidarity. First-year students rise, state their full names and proclaim their status as a Spelman sister. “I remember feeling overwhelmed because no one in my family had ever gone to college, let alone a HBCU. I didn’t know what to expect or how I would fit in but when we had the Wake Up everything seemed to fall in place. Sitting in Sister’s Chapel and telling everyone my name and that I was their Spelman sister really solidified my place at the school. It was really sacred to me,” Spelman sophomore Ebonee Brown said.