Gumbo YaYa 2020 puts new spin on tradition


Symiah Dorsey/The Lion's Roar

To kick off the event, 2019 Homecoming Queen Aesha Magee and University President Dr. John L. Crain pose for the annual Gumbo Yaya cake “cutting” photo opp. Although cake could not be distributed this year, the university continued this tradition along with many others.

Although Homecoming Week has seen several changes to tradition, this year’s Gumbo YaYa remained true to its name. 

The Campus Activity Board’s annual Homecoming celebration returned with free gumbo and entertainment on Oct. 21 in the Student Union Park. To prioritize safety and social distancing for all attendees, the event refrained from having its usual activity tents, and gumbo was served pre-packaged. 

Laney Courtney, a freshman political science major and CAB member, worked at one of the gumbo serving stations.

“This is the first one I’ve actually been to, but it’s really cool that they get to do this despite the circumstances,” shared Courtney. “I’ve loved helping out with this event.”

For entertainment, Gumbo YaYa featured music from student DJ Ed Manix as well as live performances from New Orleans duo Crescent Circus and student dance duo Flipside.

At noon, SGA Officers L’Oreal Williams and Madi Sundae announced this year’s Homecoming court. 2019 Homecoming winners Aesha Magee and Keenan Austin also took the stage one last time.

Magee, now an alumna of the university, shared what she has loved about her reign as Homecoming Queen.

“My favorite part has been being able to represent the student body,” said Magee. “I recently graduated in December, so I love being able to represent Southeastern on other campuses and in grad school, and I love being able to come back and help out with events and speak with the students and staff.”

Magee also enjoyed seeing students come together to make Gumbo YaYa possible.

“Being able to come by, see all the decorations, get together with the king and also just watching all the student organizations work together,” commented Magee. “I know that, with COVID, we haven’t been able to do that much, but being able to do this gives everyone that Homecoming experience.”

Homecoming Week will continue with more returning events, including a Lip Sync competition on Thursday, Oct. 22 from 6-9 p.m. To view all the upcoming events, click here.