On behalf of all the members of the Class of 1995, we are so sorry for the graduating seniors whose time on campus has been abruptly cut short. We remember our own senior spring fondly. Imagining what it would have been like were we scattered across the globe, without being able to celebrate the traditional rites by which Ephs usually conclude their time on campus, is heartbreaking. No doubt you’re upset and disappointed. We feel for you.
Given that current global circumstances have also disrupted our plans to reunite on campus this June for #eph95at25, we thought it might be helpful to offer a little perspective. First off, we hope that no one feels the least bit sorry for us; we sure as heck don’t! Instead, we think of this historic moment as a new starting point, and we fully intend to capitalize upon our unique status.
We already know the power of unusual circumstances to make an event memorable. Our 20th reunion was interrupted by an evacuation to the basements of Williams and Sage halls as tornado sirens sounded.
We’re also pretty sure that the class of 1970, which was due to have their 50th reunion this June, may have a similar perspective. As President Mandel reminded us in her recent letter to alumni cancelling this June’s on-campus festivities, the Class of 1970 never got to have a proper final spring semester on campus. Theirs was cancelled on account of protests against the U.S. government’s ongoing bombing of Cambodia.
Some of our peers have observed elsewhere that, as members of Generation X, we were made for this global pandemic. Among other stereotypes, members of GenX are known for their self-sufficiency and their fierce independence. We learned early on how to lock ourselves up in our houses whenever necessary. After all, GenXers are the original generation of “latchkey kids,” with a level of self-reliance that has horrified subsequent generations — including our own, when we eventually became parents. So for us, #stayhome is something we mastered long ago.
As Gen Xers, we’re also known for being skeptical of authority. Our first instinct is to do our own truth-digging when those in power tell us that everything’s under control, and there’s no threat. As Williams graduates of a certain age, we’ve had over half a lifetime to hone the research and critical thinking skills we learned on campus. That’s why we’ve been doing our own research on what is now a global pandemic since before President Mandel told students not to return after spring break. With that decision in mid-March, we cheered her on, even as we knew deep down that the announcement postponing our milestone reunion would soon follow.
We know our history. (After all, 15 percent of us graduated as history majors, making it our class’s most popular major.) We’d prefer NOT to have any repeats of the untimely death of James A. Garfield, Class of 1856, which stemmed from a train trip back to campus 25 summers after his Williams graduation.
We’ve already lost classmates to cancer and heart conditions. We have more classmates currently battling these ailments. And as the news unfolds and we hear from our network of friends, family and fellow alums, it’s clear that the toll from this pandemic will be personal for many of us. With sickness and death so front and center, the relative importance of a reunion (or even a graduation) is diminished. It’s all about perspective.
We’ve lived long enough to know that life doesn’t unfold as planned. Delayed gratification is often the name of the game. We’ve heard from many of our classmates, and as a class we all agree: holding our 25th reunion in 2021 is the only option that makes sense. We see this as an opportunity to make our celebration even more memorable when it does happen. The party for #eph95at25 Redux is going to be epic, and well worth the wait. Your graduation, Class of 2020, will be as well.
Anamaria Villamarin-Lupin (New Orleans, La.) and Flo Waldron (Lancaster, Pa.), Class Co-Presidents
Jessie Price (Shelburne, Vt.), Class Vice President
Class of 1995 25th Reunion Co-Chairs