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Housing for student performance groups remains uncertain as 2022 Reunions approaches

The Reunions, slated for May 19–22, will be the first held in-person since 2019

<h5>Alumni gather on campus for Reunions in 2013</h5>
<h6>Merrill Fabry / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Alumni gather on campus for Reunions in 2013
Merrill Fabry / The Daily Princetonian

In an email sent to the student leaders of performing arts groups on Thursday, March 17, the Alumni Association of Princeton announced that the University is expecting “an unprecedented number of alumni and their guests [to] return to campus” this summer for Reunions, suggesting that the first in-person Reunions since 2019 will require more on-campus housing to be available than in past years.

The email stated that “essential student groups that are operationally vital to Reunions” will have housing priority and “students who commit to work for Campus Dining are guaranteed housing” throughout Reunions, which will run from May 19–22. 

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However, the email stated that students in performing groups who, in the past, “were automatically offered some campus housing during Reunions” in previous years are not guaranteed housing this year. Alumni Engagement also stated they need to “significantly reduce the number of beds allotted to [student performers], and, in fact … cannot confirm if any housing will be available.”

Finally, Alumni Engagement stated that they “hope to have an update on the number of campus beds available to performance/entertainment student groups in mid-April.”  

On Wednesday, March 30, the Princeton Reunions Team provided an update via email to student performing arts groups. 

In this update, the Reunions Team affirmed its “commit[ment] to ensuring that our student workers and performers are allocated some housing for each group,” but did not provide details as to how much each group would be allocated or the methodology for making that determination. They provided an application form for the student groups to complete in order to apply for housing, which asks respondents to provide information on the group members that need housing and the performances they have planned.  

In an email to The Daily Princetonian, Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss noted that in past years, the University did not “provide housing for every member of each student group participating in Reunions events.” Hotchkiss added that for this year’s Reunions, the University has “arranged for beds on the Rider, Westminster Choir College and the Princeton Theological Seminary campuses to increase our available housing (on campus and proximal to campus)” to house alumni in attendance. 

In reference to the March 17 email guaranteeing housing for students who “commit to work for Campus Dining,” Hotchkiss explained that “[d]ining jobs may not be a good fit for all students from performing groups because the highest need for dining jobs is during lunch and dinner hours, which is often when student groups perform.” 

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Although “students receiving free interim housing on campus must complete designated tasks to support Reunions,” Hotchkiss added that the Princeton Reunions Team is “working to determine which additional Reunions tasks may be a good fit [for students in performing groups] and will work closely with students to communicate their options.”

Student performing arts groups are currently working independently to obtain housing for their performers. Julia Elman, ’23, the president of the Princeton University Players (PUP), told the ‘Prince’ she believes that “there is no way that the entire cast and crew, plus the necessary production people from both [Theatre-]Intime and PUP can get guaranteed housing.” 

According to Elman, PUP has attempted to find alternative housing and have sought donations for hotel rooms, “but because it is the first Reunions in … years, all the hotel rooms are either full or [are very expensive].” She also noted that “Reunions rests on com[ing] back to connect with [alumni] groups and see the current groups perform.” 

Elman described that she is overall “angry and frustrated” with the current situation.

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Maya Jaaskelainen ’24, the drum major and president of the Princeton University Band, an organization she described as “operationally vital” to Reunions, commented that she expects that the band’s 20–30 students will “have enough housing that [they] all will be able to stay.” Jaaskelainen said that the band is “hired by the Alumni Council each year to lead the P-Rade,” and this year is no exception.

Student groups have been looking forward to continuing the tradition of performing for their alumni. Sloan Huebner ’23, president of Princeton University Glee Club, is “really excited… for all of the people that are currently in Glee to see how strong the bond and the traditions are between people that went here 50 years ago and people that are still here today.” Although she believes “this whole situation has been a hassle,” she is resolute that Glee Club is “going to do the best with what we have, and we are going to make [our Reunions performance] happen.”

In an email to the ‘Prince’, Chuck Rozakis ’03, an alumni who was a member of performing arts groups including the band, PUP, Theatre-Intime, and the Jewish a cappella group Koleinu, commented on the importance of Reunions for both alumni and student groups.

“Reunion events are really important for the long life and health of student groups,” he said. “[They] keep the alumni connected to the group, which means the alumni are more aware and willing to provide support like donations and hiring the group[s] for gigs.”

Student groups that will be performing at this year’s Reunions and intend to request housing should complete the application form by April 10. Results and housing confirmation will be emailed during the week of April 11.

Madeleine LeBeau is a News Staff Writer for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at mlebeau@princeton.edu, on Instagram @madeleinelebeau, or on Twitter @MadeleineLeBeau.   

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