This year for ReUnion Weekend, May 29-31, the administration will enforce Union’s policies on prohibiting on-campus social events occurring during daytime hours. Registered social events will be able to be scheduled after 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, as usual.
This decision contrasts with administrative actions in years past, where Union students frequently welcomed back alumni and visitors with unsanctioned social events and saw no consequences.
However, this year daytime social events will not be allowed, in accordance with Union policy that states events with alcohol can be held “on Friday and Saturday nights only.”
Dean of Students Steve Leavitt, Vice President for Student Affairs, said, “Last year, a joint decision was made between the Office of the Dean of Students and the Vice President of College Relations (Terri Cerveny) to stop the parties that go on during the daytime.”
This will prevent parties like Theta Delta Chi’s annual beach party from occurring this Alumni Weekend. The beach party is a favorite of Union students every year.
Leavitt stated, “The beach party has never been part of the ReUnion programming that the college sponsors or plans. It has been a fraternity event and therefore is required to follow the procedures established by the college.”
He furthered, “When last year’s party didn’t follow those procedures, we made the decision at the time that there would be no beach party this year. It wasn’t the image we wanted to be projecting to alumni.”
Terri Cerveny, Vice President of College Relations, did not comment on motives for this decision, but said, “This is a special time for returning alumni to reconnect with classmates and faculty, to meet today’s students and to reflect on and celebrate their own Union experience. For some, it will be their first time back in many years.”
Students have raised concerns about the changes to the usual traditions of Alumni Weekend, citing greater risk with students forced to go off-campus for parties.
President of Alpha Epsilon Pi Alex Roth ’16 said, “The administration is trying to avoid the problem by pushing it off campus. Instead of keeping students in a safe environment at Union, it opens to the door to dangerous drunk driving and interaction with the Schenectady area.”
Interfraternity Council President Tim Hagan ’16 agreed with some of what Roth stated, saying, “We met with the deans and expressed our concerns that off-campus parties could potentially turn into something dangerous.”
Leavitt replied, “We understood that there would be more off-campus activity. But we are concerned about the safety of the large volume of those that will be on campus, and we have coordinated with Campus Safety and the Schenectady Police Department to plan for dangerous events outside.”
Director of Campus Safety Christopher Hayen states that staffing will be heavier for ReUnion Weekend, “though it is no different from any other weekend during the year.” He also stated, “We share information with local municipalities as we plan for our events so that we can come together to provide for a fun, safe, Union family environment.”
However, Lt. Mark McCracken, spokesperson for the Schenectady Police Department, said that there had been no communication between Campus Safety and Schenectady Police specifically regarding Alumni Weekend activities at press time.
Students have also raised concerns about a decrease in alumni involvement. However, Hagan believes that the changes to Alumni Weekend will not affect alumni involvement or donations, saying, “Greek life is not only about partying, and the people that remain involved do not do it just for that. In fact, it might be better for (Greek) chapters to deter alumni that come back only to party.”
Leavitt also said, “A decrease in donations is just speculation.”
Cerveny did not provide a response for this concern posed by Greek leaders.
In response to the Alumni Weekend changes, Union students have taken their complaints to the social media app Yik Yak, with some proposing formal protests. But no tangible plans for a protest had been reported at press time.
Hagan urges students to remain safe during Alumni Weekend, regardless of the activity. He said, “Alumni Weekend will be different this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. We can be safer and still have a good time.”