“My joints hurt — no bones about it,” read a pill-shaped sign carried by a member of the Class of 1963 during the annual P-rade.
The University welcomed back alumni for three days of Reunions events on campus, where more than 25,000 alumni and guests returned to campus for alumni-faculty panels, a multi-class community service project, nightlife, and the P-rade. The numbers were comparable to last year, when three out of five classes had their major Reunion year due to two years of cancellations for COVID-19.
The P-Rade took alumni all over campus during the traditional procession from Nassau Hall down Elm Drive. The oldest living alumnus, Joseph Schein ’37, once again led the “Old Guard,” Princeton alumni celebrating their 86th reunion and on. The P-rade concludes with a procession of the Class of 2023.
Alumni walked with their classmates, families, and friends to the sounds of the Princeton University Band and the Lia Fail Pipes Band.
The Class of 1973 processed behind a large orange banner that read “Coeducation Begins.” Many members of the class held signs commenting on coeducation — one read “Samuel Alito ’72 opposed coeducation. Now he gets to sit with two Princeton women on the Supreme Court!”
Ellen Honnet ’73 commented on how in her experience, transferring to Princeton after a year at Middlebury was a positive experience.
“The guys were wonderful to us, very welcoming, and that made a huge difference,” she said. “They were friends, not dates. The coeducation thing really worked.”
Returning to campus 50 years later, Enid Mendoza ’73 commented on what shocks her about Reunions. “What’s been interesting to me is that I meet people I like,” she said. “I meet women in our class that I’d never met before.”
Others noted how much has changed since their time at Princeton. Nina Lytton ’78 commented on the expansion of academic programs as a sign of University growth.
“Princeton has hired an indigenous faculty person, and we now have a native network,” she said.
Ashley Johnson ’08, celebrating her 15th reunion, called the experience “a little surreal.”
“It's like watching ‘Gilmore Girls’ and then watching ‘A Year in the Life,” she continued. “Your favorite characters come back but everybody looks older.”
She also noted how the event has become a family affair for her. “I’m here with my dad, who’s class of ’69, and am bringing my son for the first time.”
Many alumni tied their positive experience with Princeton to a family tradition. “As a son of a ’42, who came to my father's 20th and 25th, and now I'm class agent for my class, it's continuity,” said Doug Grover ’73. “I love this.”
Legacy admissions have increasingly been criticized, especially after Amherst eliminated legacy admission in 2021.
At Reunions, each major reunion — those celebrating a multiple of five — gathers in themed tents which feature live entertainment, food, and nightlife. The Class of 2003, for example, congregated under a ski themed tent on Poe field in orange jumpsuits with a class theme of “Apres ’03.” Meanwhile, the Class of 2008 celebrated their 15th reunion in a “Tropical ’08sis” and linen costumes.
There were other ways to celebrate Reunions, like the multi-class service project that took place over two days. The project included eight class groups, including the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni (APGA), and took alumni off campus for service as well as supported HomeWorks Trenton, Womanspace, Inc., and Kids Against Hunger.
Nataki Richards ’93, representative for the Class of 1993, commented on the origin of the project. “We noticed that there was a shift in why alumni wanted to come back, we wanted to continue on with our motto ‘in the nation's service,” she said.
“It started with people writing checks and turned into action,” she continued.
Alumni gathered in the Lewis Center for the Arts to assemble food bags, toiletries, and backpacks to support community partners. Anita Ortiz ’93 described her class’ goal to assemble 30,000 bags of food in honor of their 30th reunion
“It’s important that these not become empty words, but rather, that we imbed service in all that we do, including our Reunions celebrations,” said David Grace ’78, the representative for his class at the project. “Thus, we've already begun thinking about how to expand and improve the community service opportunities next time around.”
Shannon Donnelly ’03, representing the Class of 2003, noted that the event hopes to cater to the range of experience and memories of the University that alumni have.
“Everyone has different memories of Princeton and things that were important to them,” she said. “We want to have something for everything.”
Lytton expressed how Reunions is both an interpersonal and intrapersonal event, allowing alumni to reconnect with themselves as Princetonians.
“You're reconnecting, literally, with yourself at all the different years that you were here as a student, who you knew, what you did then,” she said
The weekend also included a series of faculty-alumni panels, including a panel entitled “Building a Smarter World: How Artificial Intelligence is Shaping Our Future,” featuring Princeton alumni.
The Annual Meeting of the Alumni Council took place on May 26, 2023, where the election of three new trustees, including new Young Alumni Trustee (YAT) Mutemwa Masheke was announced.
At the meeting, the Alumni Council also voted unanimously to add two new affinity groups to its Constitution — Native Alumni of Princeton and Princeton Veteran Alumni Association.
President Eisgruber ’83 also conducted his annual address to alumni in Richardson Auditorium, sharing common themes of campus expansion and diversity.
The weekend culminated with a firework show on Saturday night, which alumni, their families, and students watched from the stadium, Poe field, and even eating club backyards.
Isa Yip is a head News editor for the ‘Prince.’
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