Congratulations on your acceptances to Brown! We’re so excited to welcome you to College Hill. A new class of students is always cause for celebration. But this year, the changing of the guard feels especially meaningful.
For the past two years, the pandemic has upended our lives. Many faced financial struggles or lost loved ones. The world went remote. Masks and testing became the norm, and we grieved for the time and traditions we lost.
Through trying times, you navigated high school, a difficult task under any circumstances. And, having convinced admissions officers of your undying love for the Open Curriculum, you got into Brown. We still remember our own disbelief and excitement when receiving our acceptances, how we jumped out of our chairs when the portal read “Congratulations!” and not “We regret to inform you.”
But during pandemic times, excitement has been more complicated. It’s often tinged by loss or laced with anxiety. It’s okay to celebrate your success while still acknowledging the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.
Still, we are optimistic that your college experience will be a fresh start worth looking forward to.
Over the past year, our campus has started returning to normal. First came in-person classes, which we promise we’ll never take for granted again. Meals at the Ratty tasted inexplicably delicious when shared with old friends. Extracurriculars, truly not the same over Zoom, sprang to life again. Even the smallest actions, like meeting with a professor face-to-face during office hours, now carry excitement.
Though the pandemic is not yet over, we are hopeful that your class will be the first since the class of 2019 to fully experience everything Brown has to offer — from Convocation to Commencement.
Some of you have already experienced your first Brown tradition: A Day On College Hill. Once you arrive for Orientation in the fall, you’ll walk through the Van Wickle Gates and make friends on the Main Green. You’ll pack into crowded lecture halls during shopping period and discover your favorite restaurant on Thayer Street. You’ll sing your hearts out at Spring Weekend and enjoy the spooky Midnight Halloween Organ Recital ― traditions we sorely missed during the height of the pandemic. Though sadly you won’t get to meet Blueno, the beloved bear statue that once graced Ruth Simmons Quad, you’ll get to make fun of the new lumpy sculpture on the Main Green. And of course, you will get to forge new traditions to pass on to future classes.
Now if you’ll humor us, we’ll give you some unsolicited advice. After all, we are getting old (some of us on this Board are about to graduate). Hopefully, the pandemic has granted fresh relevance to tired cliches.
Don’t take anything for granted. Savor the small moments alongside the big ones. Go to office hours. Learn from your classes and learn from each other. Also, learn how to relax. Yes, take that course just because it has a cool name. Pack shower shoes. Bring a warm coat for the winter.
Spring is here, and the sun is shining on the Main Green. Doja Cat is blasting from a portable speaker. Frisbees are being flung. Bewildered tour groups look on as the pole dancing club twirls around in broad daylight, and as the aerial arts club does death-defying drops from 20 feet high. Nearby, there is a large rock stuck in a tree. And everyone is outside, no doubt procrastinating their homework.
It’s the kind of scene you have to see for yourself.
Congratulations, again! We’re excited to see you next year.