Campus welcomes back alumni

by Kevin Garland | 10/29/04 5:00am

Although the bonfire tends to focus attention on the freshman class, Homecoming represents a weekend of "welcome home" activities for alumni, young and old.

"It's such a wonderful opportunity to welcome back all members of the alumni family -- old friends as well as younger members, who previously haven't been very active," said deputy director of Alumni Relations Margaret Parsons said.

On Friday night, officially known as Dartmouth Night, the lamp on top of Baker Tower will be glowing bright green as a large number of alumni join the thousands of people on the Green for the bonfire ceremony.

Many alumni see this celebration as the central event of Homecoming weekend, but all three days include activities for alumni.

"I think Dartmouth Night is the focal point, but classes hold mini-reunions with their own activities. Connecting to the College is what happens at Dartmouth Night -- the nostalgia that is generated by that ceremony is a real capstone for alumni," Parsons said.

However, Parsons emphasized that the more intimate class reunions, where alumni reconnect with friends they made at Dartmouth, can sometimes be a more important part of Homecoming for alumni.

There are 34 official reunions scheduled for the weekend for individual classes, ranging from the Class of 1946 to the most recent graduates of 2004, according to Alumni Relations.

Greek houses also enthusiastically welcome alumni, and for many the myriad receptions at individual houses highlight the weekend.

"So many [fraternities and sororities] have open houses, and that means a great deal to many alumni," Parsons noted, calling the Greek system a "very strong bond" for many alumni to the College.

The campus' contingent of Greeks is also increasing its involvement with Dartmouth Night by joining the alumni parade on Friday for the first year. Among other organizations, such as Palaeopitus and sports teams, Greek houses will be present with automobiles signifying which organization they represent.

This big change in Dartmouth Night activities highlights the importance of the Greek system to the Dartmouth community.

"We're very excited to have many Greek houses participate in the Dartmouth night parade," Parsons said.

Friday night activities formally begin at 5:30 p.m., outside of Blunt Center, where an alumni tent will welcome people back to campus. The actual parade begins at 7:30 p.m., concluding at 8 p.m. for the ceremonies conducted on the steps of Dartmouth Hall.

Speaking to students, alumni and other communities in front of Dartmouth Hall will be Karen Mckeel Calby '81, President of Alumni Council; College President James Wright; Anne Marbarger '05, co-captain of women's soccer and Clayton Smith '05, co-captain of the football team.

Saturday will consist of many individual class gatherings, open houses at Greek houses and annual football game, to be held at 12:30 p.m.

Recent College alumni, like Evan Tong '01, said they enjoy returning to the Dartmouth party scene on Homecoming weekend.

"You feel so at home when you get to Dartmouth and go to Early '80s at Sigma Nu and stuff," Tong said last year about Homecoming.

Ultimately, Homecoming is about reuniting with an institution that surpasses more than one's four years in Hanover, and leaves a significant impact on all alumni's lives. This weekend, nostalgia and reminiscence will take over the campus atmosphere.