"As far as backlash, that’s a part of being on Homecoming Committee, as with any organization. Every single year, [people] are going to complain about something," Coy said, adding that "it’s just part of being on staff, and we’ve known that from the beginning. Charging for Yardfest is just adding to what we were expecting." 

Senior radio, television and film major and Homecoming Marketing & Media Relations Assistant Jordan Bailey characterized the backlash as passive-aggressive social media squawking. "The only backlash that I’ve noticed is on Twitter and mostly on social media because people rarely have the confidence to come up to you in person," he said. "But at the end of the day, even with a lineup consisting of Juicy J, A$AP Ferg and Big Sean, $5 for those three alone is a phenomenal deal. That’s $5 that you probably spend on lunch everyday that you’re putting towards these artists."

But for alumni used to the traditional Yardfest experience, this shift is unsettling on a deeper level. While Yardfest is now a concert offering top-level talent for a bargain, it's never been just a concert. Once your undergraduate days are over, Yardfest is about the calculated venture to the yard on Friday afternoon, which holds the thrill and surprise of being greeted by familiar faces you haven't seen in years. For the alumni who waited in line for validation stickers each semester or had to register for classes over the phone, being charged for Yardfest is a violation of principle—or simply a slap in the face.

Furthermore, Yardfest also draws even older alumni; the type to ask you to take a picture of them in front of some spot on the yard where they stood 20, even 30 years prior for nostalic purposes. They're unlikely to purchase tickets because they have no interest in the headliners. In the past, that didn't matter. The only investment made was time. Though it's no fault of Homecoming staff, this revamped Yardfesthas eviscerated that element. The organizers hear the complaints loud and clear. 

But for alumni used to the traditional Yardfest experience, this shift is unsettling on a deeper level. While Yardfest is now a concert offering top-level talent for a bargain, it's never been just a concert. Once your undergraduate days are over, Yardfest is about the calculated venture to the yard on Friday afternoon, which holds the thrill and surprise of being greeted by familiar faces you haven't seen in years. For the alumni who waited in line for validation stickers each semester or had to register for classes over the phone, being charged for Yardfest is a violation of principle—or simply a slap in the face.

"We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from alumni saying the dynamic of Yardfest has changed. [We understand that] it used to be a time to maybe turn up a little on the yard with your friends like ‘Oh, Jeezy’s on the yard. Cool.’ Now it’s more like a Made in America type of concert," Howard says. Coy, meanwhile, holds the mirror up to alumni: "The only campaign that probably could’ve kept us from charging for Yardfest would’ve been if the entire alumni base came together and gave $5 or $10."

While Bailey understands the resistance to change, he wants everyone to approach this year's Yardfest with an open mind. "I understand the tradition of Homecoming, but you have to be a little bit reasonable," he said. 2013 will be remembered as the year that Yardfest—and Homecoming as a whole—became more about business. Even with the push to make money, 2,000 free tickets were given away to students earlier this week. As expected, demand was high, and security was most likely needed to execute an efficient, orderly ticket giveaway.

If Yardfest has become a festival much like Made in America, the question of how this new traditional festival format will be enforced lingers. Though professors wisely cancel afternoon classes, suppose students attempt to wait it out in university buildings on the yard's permieter until the show begins at noon. What is being done to curb that? "To my knowledge, a third partywhether it’s campus police or the Metropolitan Police Departmentis bringing barricades and they’ll treat it like a music festival where you’ll show up with your ticket and we’ll slap a band on you," Coy says.

There will be re-entry, but be certain not to lose your wristband. Still, the notion of needing re-entry to the yard is another change that students and alumni scoff at, as the freedom to come and go with ease is another component to Yardfest's tradition. Change is hard to accept and people will naturally be opposed to it. In this case, they have no choice. Homecoming staff has heard the complaints and promise to overcompensate for the changes.

"We didn’t just accept the fact that we had to charge and decide we were going to deliver that same caliber of show," Howard said. "With Howard students, you know that if you change something with them, you have to add something great."

Regardless of how anyone feels about what Yardfest morphed into this year, it's still the anchor of the Howard Homecoming adventure, a sublime staple of the black college experience. Just like Kanye's pre-stardom performance in 2003 or Drake's scene-stealing appearance last year, 2013's Yardfest will always be remembered. This marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, which, for many, is a sign of aging. Still, the show must—and will—go on. 

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