Alumni return to Hanover in droves for weekend

by Conlan O'Leary | 10/21/05 5:00am

While Homecoming weekend garners incredible excitement among current undergraduates, Dartmouth students from years past take part in the festivities, too. Each year hundreds of alumni return to Hanover to revel in Homecoming events and reconnect with their alma mater.

"Dartmouth alumni have an incredibly special connection to the school," Deputy Director of Alumni Relations Margaret Parsons said. "This place is special in so many ways and Homecoming is a wonderful time to reawaken memories from their time on campus."

Homecoming officially begins for alumni at 5:30 p.m. Friday evening with a reception at the Blunt Alumni Center followed by the traditional torchlight parade in which alumni march with their class.

At the conclusion of the parade, the Dartmouth Night ceremonies begin on the steps of Dartmouth Hall. Afterwards, the entire campus moves onto the Green for the bonfire.

"The Dartmouth Night ceremonies and the bonfire have a huge sentimental value. It is truly the focal point and is in many ways symbolic of Homecoming," Parsons said.

This year, Homecoming is about more than just a good time for alumni, as the Association of Alumni will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, October 23. In addition to electing new officers, alumni will also discuss a newly proposed constitution.

According to Diana Lawrence, director of communications for alumni relations, there is currently some controversy with regard to the proposed constitutions. In addition to the slate of candidates nominated by the official Nominating Committee, another group of alumni, nominated by petition, will be running in opposition to the new constitution.

"Regardless of whether they support the proposed new constitution or not, one of the messages the association is trying to get out to all alumni is to come to the meeting, get informed, discuss the issues and vote," Lawrence said.

Although differences in the constitutions exist, according to Lawrence, they have arisen only because alumni are so passionate about the school. The preamble of the proposed new constitution states that all alumni should act "with fierce love for Dartmouth College."

Aside from the wide array of events scheduled by the Alumni Relations Office, several Greek organizations will be holding functions for alumni that include cocktail receptions and tailgate parties. For its 100th anniversary, Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity will be holding a series of open houses and cocktail parties to celebrate.

"We're thrilled with what the fraternities do. For many alumni that is the strongest bond they have to the school," Parsons said.

In addition to events that include all alumni, 47 classes will be holding mini-reunions over the course of the weekend. For many alumni, these smaller gatherings garner the most nostalgia.

"The mini class reunions are particularly intimate and very important to alumni," Parsons said. "They are a great way to stay in touch between the larger reunions that occur every five years."

While older alumni enjoy reunions and special events during Homecoming weekend, more recent graduates tend to return for the parties.

"Once you graduate, Homecoming is the one weekend where it's totally okay to come back and not be that weird alum," Sabrina Singh '05 said.

This year there will be several new events for alumni, including the Celebration Swing Dance, the Alumni Book Club of Dartmouth and a student research poster session.

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