Reunions will no longer be held over Homecoming weekend


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By Richard Pryor III

Executive Staff

Homecoming will never be the same again. In March 2017, the Alumni Relations office, led by Associate Vice President of Alumni and Parent Programs Susan Askew (C’86), announced a change to the timing for Sewanee’s annual class reunions. The most recent reunions were the final reunions to be held during Homecoming weekend, the traditional time. Starting in 2018, reunions will be held in June 1-3.


In a feature in Sewanee, the University’s magazine, it was announced that the change would offer more accommodations on campus through using some dormitories, as well as “educational opportunities from Sewanee faculty as well as outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and tours.”


Many Sewanee students have also complained that alumni’s presence during Homecoming and fall party events can make them uncomfortable if alumni behave inappropriately, especially towards female students.


Alumni participate in many Homecoming activities such as the procession of classes to the football game, the All Saints Day services at All Saints’ Chapel, and often use these opportunities to mingle with students.


The reaction around campus has been mixed, and Jonathan Brown (C’18) remarked that “on one hand, I see the practicality, but on the other hand, what better time to have a reunion than Homecoming?”


For many alumni, the opportunity to mingle with students was the main reason for wanting to continue reunions during Homecoming weekend. Mary Evelyn Beeland (C’82), whose son Robert Beeland (C’18) is a current student, explained that her favorite activity, going to the football game, could only happen in the fall.


“It’s such a part of reunion weekend,” Beeland declared. “I’ll miss the football scene.”


However, other alumni like Tom Black (C’86) were more optimistic about the change. Black was excited for the “opportunity for us to come twice in a year,” and remarked that “Sewanee is a great place to be in early June.”


The 2017 reunion season involved more than 2,000 alumni returning to the Mountain, according to Askew. Representatives from classes as far back as 1949 journeyed back to Sewanee to enjoy the last reunions during the Homecoming fall party weekend.


  1. “Many Sewanee students have also complained that alumni’s presence during Homecoming and fall party events can make them uncomfortable if alumni behave inappropriately, especially towards female students.”

    … you write without reference or attribution. I’m not claiming that such a thing has never happened, but I’m calling bullshit on this as a “reason” for the change.

    1. Exactly where is this listed as a “‘reason’ for the change”? What you quoted is a statement of student opinion—I see no implication of causation. The second paragraph says quite clearly that the move will allow for better accommodations—that seems like a pretty direct reason. I’m sorry some college students’ opinions about a select group of people has offended you so.

  2. Is this a premature April Fools Bulletin from the grand ole University of the South?

    If not then I must respectfully shout from the mountain top that “This idea is terrible and should have been vetted considerably more for it is a major mistake and I may fathom to say may be the worst mistake the University could ever make.” This move will disconnect and disenfranchise the faithful alum from the institution and it will most certainly result in much fewer visits to the mountain by alum. The cumulative effect over time will sever alumni bonds from the active and inspiring in-session campus atmosphere. June is a month for kids to go to camp, parents to travel and family reunions to gather. Visiting the old alma mater is not a summer thing it is saved for Fall football weekends, even if your not a football fan, for it just gives one that feeling of place. Furthermore, returning alum witnessing and interact with the current student body and faculty while in action is meaningful and there is no substitute. The pro arguments expressed seem ludicrous, especially the one about somehow a certain group of students feeling harassed or endangered by the visiting alum. Remembering back to “our time” on the Mountain Homecoming and Alumni Weekends, they were so interesting and entertaining. Having the alum from years gone by to mingle with, to discuss “how it was” and “how it is” was priceless and gave all a sense of belonging. Just as important as it is in families reunions for those of multiple generations to get to know one another and feel that sense of being part of something special, of who you are and where you came from, so too is the Mountain’s family needing that same multi generational connection. Besides, just to go to the mountain to see an empty campus and hang out with a bunch of old people sounds boring and I personally will skip it for the beach.
    Sorry, but unplug and then reboot this whole idea before it s too late!!

  3. Dear Mr. Pryor — As a former Sewanee Purple editor and a continuing friend to many Sewanee students, I ask you to reconsider your unsubstantiated attribution of the rescheduling of Alumni Weekend to the predation of alumni on female students. If such predation has occurred, then of course it must be dealt with judiciously and forcefully.

    But your general slur of alumni violates every principle of fairness — as well as of journalism, which I have practiced with honor for more than 40 years. I also have been a crusader against sexual assault — I received a Pulitzer nomination for a series of stories about the University of South Florida — and for gender and LGBT equality.

    Please let this be a teachable moment for you: Neither righteous indignation nor vague assumptions are enough in journalism. You need facts, sources, real examples….

    I was an undergraduate once. I made many mistakes; I tried to learn from them. Please learn from this one. And if you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to write me at I promise not to bite.

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