Spring Reunion gives alumni a quieter homecoming

A ‘different experience’ for 700 attendees of first Spring Reunion weekend

Queen’s alumni celebrated a different kind of Homecoming this weekend at the first Spring Reunion and second annual MiniU.

The Spring Reunion replaced the traditional Homecoming weekend in September, which has been cancelled for at least two years. On Nov. 14, Principal Tom Williams announced the cancellation of the event due to safety concerns over the annual illegal street party on Aberdeen St.

Approximately 700 alumni attended, were provided with a full weekend’s worth of tours, seminars and mixers. Fall Homecoming tends to draw approximately 5,000 people each year.

Lloyd Robertson, Sci ’59, attended Spring Reunion with his wife Dorothy. Roberston said this was his sixth reunion weekend.

“I’ve [attended] 25, 30, 35, 40, 45,” he said. “It’s a lot quieter. We enjoyed it. … We did miss the football game and all the students there.”

Robertson said he was initially disappointed to learn of Homecoming’s cancellation because so few current students are on campus in May.

“I don’t know whether the change in the reunion weekend really solved their problem. They’ll know this fall when the football season starts.”

Robertson commented on the many new buildings dotting the campus, but said he thinks the spirit of the University hasn’t changed.

“The enthusiasm is still there. I would be here whether it was in May or September. … We enjoyed it in fall, we enjoyed it now,” he said. “The students that are here were great, but there’s not nearly as many of them.”

Robertson said his giving to the University wasn’t affected by fall Homecoming’s cancellation.

Dorothy Robertson said she felt the dangers presented by the Aberdeen street party gave the administration no choice but to move the reunion to the spring.

“They had to do that for health reasons, to keep people alive.”

The spring reunion coincided with the University’s MiniU, a weekend of educational seminars offered to alumni each spring.

Many alumni on campus this weekend told the Journal MiniU was the main reason they returned to Queen’s this weekend.

Rob Renaud, Comm ’96, said he was on campus for the MiniU events. He said he found spring reunion a different experience from Homecomings of the past.

“I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse. It’s a different experience. I think that a change was necessary. We’ll obviously have to see what the fall looks like,” he said. “If Homecoming returns in the fall, who knows; maybe we’ll have spring reunion too.”

Renaud said he thought the weekend was a success.

“Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.”

Jocelyne Hodgson attended MiniU for the second year in a row with her husband, a Queen’s alumnus. Hodgson said she enjoyed the weekend, but found it too hectic.

“Last year, we were alone, so there was more help from the volunteers,” she said, adding that she thinks MiniU should be a three or four-day event.

Hodgson agreed with Robertson, saying that that it’s odd being on campus when so few students are in town, but said she would come back next year.

“It’s just nice to get back to university life.”

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