Corn monument contest brings homecoming tradition online

Each year during homecoming week at the UI, a giant corn monument is built on the Pentacrest as a monument of school spirit. This year, due to the pandemic, the monument will not be built, but there is still an open design contest.



The corn monument sits on the Pentacrest lawn on Monday, Oct. 15, 2019. The monument has been a yearly tradition that is believed to have been started in 1919.

Morgan Ungs, News Reporter

In a typical year, the giant monument made out of corn cobs at the University of Iowa is a spectacle to see during homecoming. 

This year, the week looked different than previous iterations as football was postponed until later in the season and Homecoming Week took place online from Sept. 28 through Oct. 4, with an online parade, trivia, but no Hawkeye football game. This meant the corn monument had to change as well. 

Each year, those involved in the civil engineering department collaborate with students across camps to design, construct, and assemble a corn monument on the Pentacrest. 

A civil engineering student and the current president of the UI American Society of Civil Engineers, Connor Peterson, would normally be in charge of the construction and oversee the process of building the iconic monument, but this year his role was a lot different. 

Peterson said he and the corn monument director were looking forward to what they could do with the monument this year, but COVID-19 wiped away all of those plans because the university declared student organizations would not be allowed to hold in-person events. 

Peterson, the ASCE, and students involved with the construction were all sad they were not able to build the monument this year. 

Instead of a physical monument, the university is hosting an online design contest this year for anyone in the community to submit work to. 

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Casey Westlake, assistant director of alumni relations and events for the College of Engineering, met with Allen Bradley, chair of the civil engineer department, who told Westlake that one of the goals for the year was to highlight their department’s involvement with the corn monument.

In order to do that, Westlake said they decided to make the contest accessible for not only engineering students but also artists, designers or students this year. 

“We want this to be open to anybody that loves the Hawkeyes, anybody that loves homecoming and loves the way that it feels to be on campus in the fall – and to see a giant monument made out of corn cobs when you’re walking across the Pentacrest,” she said. 

Anyone can submit a design and it can come in any form or media as long as it can be saved as a JPEG file, Westlake said. 

Ciara Gallen, a student involved with the monument through the Campus Activities Board, said that CAB strives to keep campus traditions, such as the corn monument, alive. 

“Part of our mission is to spread events that are fun, but also events that bring school spirit and keep traditions alive,” she said. “I think [the corn monument] is a pretty important one.”

Although this tradition won’t be in the form of a physical monument this year, Peterson said the design contest — which is open until Sunday — is still a great opportunity for students.

“It’s really a great thing not only for us but the whole university,” the student leader said, “A lot of people are down this year, but I really hope this inspires people to be creative and try something new.”