After a virtual commencement and a canceled reunion weekend in 2020, as well as a virtual reunion weekend in 2021, the University plans to host both events on-campus next month for the first time since May 2019.
This year’s commencement and alumni weekend — both of which will take place from May 27-29 — originally planned to celebrate graduates from the class of 2022, as well as other classes celebrating major graduation anniversaries. But, as a result of 2020’s cancellations due to COVID-19, the University also chose to honor the class of 2020.
Jill Rossi, interim co-vice president of alumni relations, emphasized the special nature of the multi-class celebration in an email to The Herald.
“(The class of 2020) was unable to experience the usual Commencement Traditions, but when they return this year, they will take part in this time-honored tradition of walking through the Van Wickle Gates, while also celebrating as alumni with the full community throughout Reunion Weekend,” she wrote.
The University expects that “close to one thousand” members of the class of 2020 will attend reunion weekend, Rossi wrote.
Brian Clark, a spokesperson for the University, echoed Rossi’s sentiment about the importance of these traditions in an email to The Herald.
“Commencement and Reunion Weekend is an important annual tradition in the lives of Brown graduates and alumni that takes place each and every year, other than when circumstances beyond the University’s control prevent that and force it to be rescheduled,” he wrote. “Our intent has always been to proceed with the full annual tradition as conditions allow, and we’re glad that current conditions will make that possible.”
Campus Dance, a large social gathering on the Main Green and Ruth J. Simmons Quad for graduating seniors and their families, alumni, faculty and staff, will also return on the night of May 27.
Jordana Siegel ’20, currently based in San Francisco, said that she always knew that she would make the time to come back to campus after graduating.
“I really want to walk through the gates and go to Campus Dance and have that experience,” she said. “It’s always been really important to me, so it wasn’t even a question. The minute they scheduled it, I submitted my time off request, and did all of the necessary work buying tickets.”
Siegel said she and several of her friends will stay in on-campus housing, which the University offered as an option for attendees for the duration of the weekend.
“The whole house that I lived with senior year — we’re all still very close … (we) actually all got on a FaceTime call,” she said. “We were like, ‘let’s get this housing group together!’”
“One of my friends booked the dorm rooms for all of us, so we’re all living on the same floor in (Andrews) doubles, throwing it back to freshman year,” she noted. “It was no question that we’d stay on campus … we’re excited to have the common rooms and that (nostalgic) moment.”
While Siegel said she was concerned that the pandemic would prevent her from traveling to Providence, she didn’t have any concerns regarding COVID transmission during the events.
Clark wrote that the University is continuing to prioritize the health and safety of all attendees.
“In terms of practical impacts, all visitors and guests will be required to follow Brown’s health and safety protocols in effect at the time,” he wrote.
“Everyone (vaccinated or not), should of course carefully monitor for symptoms and must self-isolate away from others in the event of symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test,” he continued. “Keeping our community healthy remains a shared responsibility, and guests and graduates alike should consider the implications for all the weekend’s participants if COVID-19 were to spread.”
For recent graduates who have never seen or experienced commencement or reunion weekend before, they should expect opportunities for “exploration and rediscovery,” Rossi wrote.
“Alumni will rekindle connections with classmates, and visit special places on campus where they made some of their favorite memories,” she wrote. “The joy and energy of this year’s Reunion Weekend will truly be like no other, as we return to these familiar, much-loved spaces and to the Reunion traditions we have missed.”
Aniyah Nelson is a University News editor overseeing the undergraduate student life beat. She is a junior from Cleveland, Ohio concentrating in political science and sociology. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and watching bloopers from The Office.