As the chair of the Class of 1970’s 50th reunion, which was to be held June 10-14, I have been leading our 50th reunion effort since 2015. While I may be the chair, I am supported by many other classmates and their spouses who have volunteered their time and energy to raise money for our class gift, build a class website, prepare a special class book and organize the programming for the reunion weekend, including selecting meals and event venues. In addition, we mounted an extensive outreach program, which has been ongoing since 2015. We were hoping to have 50 percent or more of our class attend this reunion.
The 50th is a very special reunion by all accounts. Early on, we developed a tag line for our reunion, “Reconnect, Reflect, and Celebrate.” We officially learned last week that all 2020 reunions are canceled, as well as commencement for the Class of 2020. These were heart-wrenching decisions that the College had to make. I personally feel bad for the Class of 2020 and hope that they will have an opportunity to reconvene as a class in the not-too-distant future, and hopefully in the Purple Valley.
It is ironic that the College canceled major events only twice in its history. Both involved my class. In May 1970, final exams were canceled because of the student strikes over the Vietnam War. Last week, our 50th reunion was canceled because of another type of war. For me, and I am sure for others in my class, the cancellation was expected and made sense. It would be hard to celebrate our 50th reunion in light of the tragedies surrounding the coronavirus. The health and safety of my classmates and their families, as well as others with whom we may be in contact far outweigh a 50th reunion. A 50th reunion simply does not register as a priority at this moment in time, nor should it.
We will hold a 50th reunion, though it may be in 2021 or later. It will be held in person and without the constraints of social distancing and face masks. We will celebrate in proper fashion – and not just through having some form of a virtual reunion. While we are all on the back nine of our lives, as my son likes to say, we are patient and will bide our time. I am ever hopeful that there will be a proper time to celebrate our 50th reunion.
Even if the coronavirus is eradicated in the coming months, the longer-term impacts of this pandemic will be felt for months and maybe years. Waiting a year or more to celebrate our 50th reunion is the right thing to do. Classmates and their families should have no fear in traveling to Williamstown or in shaking hands or hugging one another. I think that we should still call it a 50th reunion, even if it is held in 2021 or later. Who says that we cannot hold back time?
I am confident that the College will find an appropriate time to hold our reunion, whether it is part of a broader traditional multi-class reunion program or just a special event for our class. We are working closely with the 50th Reunion Program in this regard. The College is very lucky to have a formal 50th Reunion Program to support the 50th reunion classes. I cannot give enough praise for program’s three full-time dedicated staff, who make our job much easier.
The College was and still is a special place for most of us. The enduring bonds that were created during our undergraduate years remain ever so strong 50 years later. The College has been an important part of my life since I entered in 1966. Over the intervening years, I have had the good fortune of maintaining a connection with the College through various alumni and class activities. Most of my classmates are also strong supporters of the College, as evidenced by the fact that we have won the Wood Trophy a record 14 times. This award is for having the highest participation rate in the annual alumni fund for classes up to and including the 50th reunion class. Our win this year involved a participation rate of nearly 85 percent. This would have been a fitting run up to our June reunion.
Our entire class awaits the 50th reunion, whenever it may be.
Halley Moriyama ’70 lives in Wellesley, Mass.