The Classes of 2020 and 2021 will be returning to campus for the first in-person Reunions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and their respective graduations. As of an announcement on Wednesday, April 6, the University will be covering their cost of attendance.
Wristbands, which are normally free for the class of graduating seniors, including this year’s graduating Class of 2022, cost $65.
Students in the Classes of 2020 and 2021 told The Daily Princetonian they felt grateful and excited in light of Wednesday’s announcement.
“We’re beyond thrilled about this change that the University has made, and incredibly appreciative of all the offices and individuals who worked so hard to make it happen,” Sanjana Duggirala ’21, who serves as alumni class president for her class, wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “We’re glad that there are less barriers for members of the Class of 2021 to attend a Reunions that we have been waiting a year for and are excited to see everyone come together next month!”
Grace Baylis ’20, who serves as one of two Reunions chairs for the Class of 2020, told the ‘Prince’ that the chairs had been working “very closely with Alumni Affairs to be able to try and make this happen.”
“I think whenever there’s something like Reunions or decisions like this, it takes a lot of people to be involved,” Baylis said. “I’m really grateful to all the people within Alumni Affairs who have done a heck of a lot of hard work to make this happen.”
Gray Collins ’21, another recent alumnus, expressed their happiness with the change in a message to the ‘Prince.’
“I think we [the Class of 2021] are so excited for Reunions because we literally just want to come together,” they said. “I think we would still show up even if there were no tents or parades or music. I know we would’ve still showed up for $65, but we deserve to feel welcomed back with open arms in the same way we’ve been supporting each other the past two years through all kinds of different hardships.”
According to an April 6 email from the Alumni Engagement Team for Reunions to the Classes of 2020 and 2021, this fee is “customarily collected to offset the costs of the Fifth major Reunion, which is celebrated this year by the Class of 2017.” For this year, the University will “pay the equivalent of [the] collective wristband fees to the Class of 2017.”
Baylis explained that the “$65 usually would go to the Class of 2017, in the support of the Fifth Reunion, and then that would allow that reunion to be able to subsidize some of the costs of hosting [the tent for] the first, second, third, and fourth.”
Any members of these classes who had already paid for their wristbands will get a refund from the University, though the email stated that it may take a couple of weeks for the refund to come through.
Alumni from these classes, as well as from the Classes of 2016, 2018, and 2019, are allowed to bring up to one adult guest, and the cost of attendance for those guests will remain at $65, which will go to the Class of 2017.
“I think Reunions of any kind are easy to frame as purely nostalgic events,” Collins added. “That’s not what I expect at all out of ’21 Reunions this year. I’m excited to see a bunch of friends all in one place again and make more memories together.”
Alumni from recent graduating classes had expressed frustrations online prior to the change. David Song ’21 posted on Twitter the day before this change, “[S]omething really needs to be done about how the Class of 2021 gets NO [R]eunions benefits. [T]his is our graduating Reunions too but we have to pay for entry and housing and everything.”
While grateful to the University for covering the cost, some were surprised at the University’s decision.
“Earlier in the year, when we began the process of planning Reunions for the Class of 2021, a few members of our Executive Committee brought up the fact that our class missed out on the chance to really experience Reunions our senior year — and that it seemed unfair that we would miss out on the opportunity to attend free of charge,” Remy Reya ’21, who serves as alumni class secretary for his class, wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Despite the sense of unfairness, it didn’t seem like it would make the cut, in terms of priorities.”
Reya was an Opinion columnist for the ‘Prince’ while a student.
“All that said, we are so glad that the University came around and made this call,” Reya added. “Reunions are one of the most important ways that Princetonians stay connected; more than anything, the University’s decision to make this year’s celebration more accessible is an investment in its youngest alumni classes.”
Katherine Dailey is a Co-Head News Editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @kmdailey7.