The Alumni Relationship
Last weekend I began reflecting in earnest upon my new relationship with my college, my alma mater. Starting Thursday night my school held their annual Alumni Weekend and folks from as early as the class of 1933 made the trek back to campus to celebrate going to our college.
This year the class of 1961 held their 50th reunion and demonstrated that, even at seventy, alums can still party hard in good Olde Club and Paces spirit (and still enjoy, of course, the free-flowing booze oft provided at our college events).
As a student worker I spent Thursday through Sunday driving the ‘61ers, and their peers from other years, to the various events around campus. Yes, I had the very coveted role of golf cart driver and truly relished my task of navigating the arboretum paths with my sage alums in tow.
No doubt the best part about this role (aside from feeling the wind in my hair) was having the opportunity to interact with alums fifty-plus years out of college who had fascinating stories to tell of their time here. Apparently the college had a kickin’ folk scene to which many of the class members of ‘40-‘70 were active members. Annual folk festivals were held on campus for many years with guests from Pete Seeger to Doc Watson.
Unfortunately, the college disbanded these festivals due to excessive student drug use and public sex. After hearing some of the graphic stories relayed to me by members of the class of ’41, I have determined that Worthstock and the other college “large-scale events” are wholly mild in comparison to what the college used to put on (Crunkfest not included).
Thanks to the plethora of folky alums that attended this weekend, a hootenanny went on late into the night Thursday. We sang Amazing Grace, Dona Nobis Pacem, and many a song from Rise Up Singing. On Friday evening Doc Watson performed in the LPAC theatre to a full house. Though this blind folk legend is now eighty-eight years old, he still inspired great applause from his audience (which included my woot-wooing) with his not-at-all diminished talent for plucking the guitar strings.
In addition to the college’s folk scene, it appears that the campus’ physical features have also changed a great deal since the graduation of many of its students. As we drove by campus buildings and monuments my passengers noted the major differences between the college today and the college when they were students. Where LPAC stands there used to be a pool; Old Tarble was once a library; the dining hall used to be housed in Parrish; and Tarble was referred to as Clothier.
Fifty or sixty years down the line, will I look at Sharples and tell the student worker I am chatting with that it used to be our dining hall; that McCabe was once my library; that the dorm that I’m housed in for the weekend used to be a field? Will I be the alum with a walker or will I be the alum who refuses all golf carting services, still able to navigate the campus without the aid of a motorized vehicle?
No doubt my relationship to my college will grow and change just as it has for all of its alumni. At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that come Alumni Weekend, I will get to sit in the big white chair on Parrish beach and feel like I’m home again for a little while.