Photo courtesy of sewanee.edu
By Richard Pryor III
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.