By ALLI SHEA
On the first weekend of November, St. Lawrence University will host its first official Homecoming Weekend since 1996. Hoping to re-establish what was formally a deeply rooted tradition of the university, students, alumni, and administration alike have worked to re-create the weekend – bigger and better than ever before. With several sports games and dozens of different events planned, along with nearly 200 expected alumni attendees, the weekend is shaping up to be one to remember.
Why did Homecoming ever stop in the first place? “Attendance was dropping,” says Ed Forbes, Secretary of the Alumni Council, “Many alumni just weren’t interested in attending.” When former university president Daniel Sullivan began his term in 1996, Homecoming Weekend was replaced with a The Laurentian Leadership Weekend, “designed to recognize alumni volunteers who made a difference [for the university] through admissions, donations, athletics, and so on and so forth” says Forbes.
In addition to alumni, prestigious speakers were brought to campus during the Laurentian Leadership Weekend, including Ben Bradley, a reporter for the Washington Post during the Watergate Scandal and Herb Brooks, the coach of the 1980 US Hockey Team, which famously went on to become Olympic Champion. This event was later replaced by Laurentians in Residence, which became “a more focused way to get alumni leaders on campus to share professional experiences with students,” explains Forbes.
Macreena Doyle, Coordinator of News Services, says that while discussions of bringing back Homecoming have been ongoing for several years, this past spring the official decision was made to host the weekend in the fall. Immediately upon setting a date, the university sent out “save-the-date” magnets to its alumni, along with email invitations, postcards, and several reminders on Facebook and Twitter.
Mary Jane Sweetland, Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Programs, came to a meeting of the Thelomathesian Society last March to encourage student organizations to host their own events for the weekend. “We’ve been really impressed with the student response,” says Dennis Morreale, also an Assistant Director of Alumni and Parent Programs. The Thelomathesian Society will be hosting a “White Tent Event” featuring the “Flying Wedge,” an alumni band. The Java House will also be hosting “Hot Day at the Zoo” on Friday night, at their venue. Sororities will be having Open-House events, and Campus Tours will be going out throughout the weekend. St. Lawrence Students and Alumni are also invited to wander down to the athletic fields and Appleton, for two Men’s Hockey games, a Swimming and Diving meet, and a Football game Saturday afternoon. A full list of all events can be found on the university website.
Both Doyle and Sweetland expect that most of the alumni at the event will be younger alumni, 10-15 year graduates. However, for the alumni that will be coming back to campus for the first time in five or ten years, Ed Forbes explains that they will certainly be impressed by how much St. Lawrence has changed “from both the increasing quality of the students and the investments in the facilities.
For many of St. Lawrence’s Alumni, Homecoming weekend will provide the chance to “re-live those glory days,” says Dennis Morreale. For the students, it provides an opportunity to celebrate the university and it’s traditions alongside enthusiastic and accomplished alumni. While expectations are high, students and administration alike are sure that this weekend will not be one to disappoint.