Young Alumni Weekend events draw crowds

Courtesy of MENGLI SHI  Recent Hopkins alumni returned to Hopkins Sept. 25-26 to take part in a variety of festivities.

Courtesy of MENGLI SHI
Recent Hopkins alumni returned to Hopkins Sept. 25-26 to take part in a variety of festivities.

By ALEX DRAGONE
Senior Staff Writer

Over 1,000 alumni converged in Charles Village to take part in this year’s Young Alumni Weekend (YAW), with events extending from Friday to Saturday night, Sept. 25-26.

The weekend’s festivities started on Friday night at the Pratt Street Ale House, located in downtown Baltimore. Hundreds of alumni and undergraduates, mostly seniors, arrived to take advantage of the special Hopkins-discounted drinks ranging from $4-$6, a buffet and Oktoberfest-themed festivities. Pratt Street Ale House was filled, as was the outdoor bar area. The YAW staff counted 931 alumni at the event.

On Saturday morning, 160 alumni from the Class of 2015 attended a brunch at the Hopkins Club.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., 400 alumni from the classes of 2012 to 2014 were invited to a pre-football tailgate party, complete with food, beer and games.

They all then moved over to the Homewood Field to watch Hopkins play the Muhlenberg College Mules in a special homecoming game. The Blue Jays won 49-28, bringing the team to a 4-0 record for the season.

Sophomore Jonah Reels, a member of the football team who was working in the VIP lounge at Saturday’s tent party, said the game carried special significance.

“It’s Coach [Jim] Margraff’s 25th year coaching, so it was a packed game and reception,” Reels said.

Other events on Saturday included a Hopkins Pride Gathering at the LGBTQ Office, an East Coast networking mixer at Levering Hall and an a cappella concert at Mudd Hall.

But the headline event of Saturday was the Young Alumni Tent Party, held from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the Bloomberg Courtyard and in the Bloomberg building.

Alumni who pre-registered for the event received free entry, three drink tickets and access to food. The Office of Alumni

Relations bought 300 pizzas for the event. Students and alumni who did not pre-register paid $15.

“We had 1300 alumni pre-register,” said Laura Savettiere, an employee of the Alumni Relations Office who volunteered with the YAW events. Savettiere was posted at the tent’s entrance on Saturday night, keeping track of the number of entrants.

The event’s security was run by S.A.F.E. Management, an outside contractor. S.A.F.E. employees were posted at the event entrance checking IDs and patrolled the tent and the interior of Bloomberg.

For safety reasons, some people were denied access to the party.

“Some people over-indulged on alcohol before coming here,” Savettiere said. “We had no policy on not letting in people overly intoxicated, but it was handled on a case-by-case basis.”

Some alumni and students complained of the S.A.F.E. team’s heavy-handedness, such as abruptly closing off access to the Bloomberg bathrooms at 12:30 AM and forcing some students to leave through the side entrances, leading to some verbal confrontations.

“You don’t have to be rude, you assholes!” one alumnus yelled as the S.A.F.E. employees forced him to leave through a side door without providing explanation.

Pat Conklin, the senior associate director of the Homewood Reunion Program (a branch of the Office of Alumni Relations) and the overall manager of the weekend, estimated the total number of people who attended the tent party to be around 1,500. When asked how much the weekend’s events cost, she said, “expensive.”

One feature of the tent party was a VIP lounge, open to alumni from the Classes of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Alumni could access the lounge on the second floor of Bloomberg, featuring club-like ambient lighting, couches, a bar with a wide selection of drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

“It’s a nice alternative to the more chaotic and tight tent space,” Janet Kirsch, assistant director for student, young alumni and regional programs, said.

Reels said the lounge had a more relaxed atmosphere than the tent.

“These guys here are classy. There’s been no issues,” Reels said.

Reels also said he appreciated the weekend’s opportunities to connect with alumni.

Sarah Azody, an alumna of the Class of 2015, attended a number of the weekend’s events.

“The tent party was good,” Azody said. “I think the brunch was my favorite event, but the party was fine. I didn’t love the drinks, but the music was good, and I saw a bunch of friends,” Azody said.

“The S.A.F.E. guys are hard to deal with, but they’re just doing their jobs. I’d be stressed out too in that situation,” she added.

Ian Colrick, a senior who attended the tent party, said he wished similar events were more common on campus.

“There’s a severe lack of social interaction on campus,” Colrick said. “This was fun and rare for Hopkins. I wish they had more mixer-like events.”

Colrick and many other seniors attended the tent party hoping to catch recently graduated friends and other undergraduates.

“I came mostly to see other seniors,” Colrick said. “You’re close to those in the year above you, but other than that it’s mostly kids in your grade.”

Mengli Shi, another senior, said she valued the tent party because it brought alumni and undergraduates from different years together.

“It’s like all of college in one party,” Shi said.

Joel Pally, a graduate from the Class of 2015, said coming to Alumni Weekend was an easy choice.

“I’m actually living and doing research in Baltimore, so it was no trouble,” Pally said. “It was awesome to see how many kids actually showed up. Most are from the East Coast.”

Pally, who studied biophysics at Hopkins, is now studying to take the LSAT.

“It was good to see fellow graduates and catch up,” Pally said. “People are doing consulting work, all kinds of things. It’s absolutely inspiring, and it motivates me to do more. I hope to come back in future years if I’m around.”

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