Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alumnae Association Response to Reunion Changes

You've heard by now that starting with Reunion 2013, which reunion each class attends is changing. This is the new schedule:  
Reunion I: 2nd, 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th
Reunion II: 5th, 15th, 35th, 45th, 55th, 65th, 75th

There are a lot of alumnae unhappy about this change, and the Alumnae Association sent class officers the following email. We're pasting it here to share with you, and would love to hear your feedback. Please comment on the post with your name, or email your thoughts to We hope to hear from you!

The 2006 Class Board

Dear Alumnae Class Officers:

You may have heard recently from a group of young alums calling themselves the “Reunion Redo Ad Hoc Committee.” These alumnae are organizing a petition in opposition to the separation of the 2nd and 5th reunion classes, starting in 2013.

We would like to provide you with some of the facts behind this part of the recent changes to reunion class distribution, so that you can evaluate the petition and its call to action.

The Ad Hoc Committee notes that the 2nd and 5th reunion classes are the only two at reunion who were on campus together at Mount Holyoke and cite the opportunity for people at their fifth-year reunion to reconnect with the alumnae who were first years when they were seniors.

While we appreciate that some young alumnae enjoyed the opportunity to attend reunion with classes that they were on campus with as students, it should be noted that the 2nd and 5th classes have only been grouped together for their reunions since 2008, when a pilot program began.

Attendance rates at reunion during that period indicate that the regrouping did little to encourage young alums to attend. Less than 20 percent of the 2nd and 5th year reunion classes attended reunion each year during the 2008-2010 pilot program years, down from higher attendance rates in the years immediately preceding the pilot’s initiation. As such, it is difficult to justify maintaining the grouping of these classes, since the intended effect – increasing the number of young alumnae who attend reunion – was not achieved.

The Ad Hoc Committee also notes that the two youngest classes comprise the majority of alumnae who cite “Laurel Parade as their most important reason for attending reunion,” and thus are hurt more than other classes by ending the 5th reunion class’s participation in Reunion I.

The Alumnae Association’s August 24 announcement about reunion class distribution cited, though apparently inartfully, data from a 2005 survey of alumnae views of reunion. Those citing the findings, however, should know more about the survey results.

Young alumnae (defined as alumnae out of college 15 years or less) were indeed more likely to choose the Laurel Parade as “very important” – but only in comparison to other groupings of alumnae also citing the Parade as very important. Most young alumnae actually had more qualified views than that individual statistic suggests. The majority of young alumnae in the survey listed Laurel Parade as only “somewhat important” – 36%. Those identifying it as “very important” made up only 20% of the responses – tied with the number who identified it as “very unimportant” and less than those who viewed it as “somewhat unimportant” (24%).

Of course, the purpose of the new distribution of classes at reunion is not to implement survey data. It is instead to more equitably distribute classes between the two weekends so that all alumnae can alternate the years that they participate in the Laurel Parade and other Reunion I traditions, and the years that they take part in the new Reunion II traditions.

Starting in 2013, the first year of the return to the former distribution of classes at reunion, non-class year alumnae groups will be organizing reunions for their members as well, such as alumnae athletes. Having these groups on campus will provide alumnae with multiple reasons to attend reunion – and we believe it will encourage more alumnae to attend reunion across the board. That is, we know, everyone’s goal.

While the Alumnae Association board of directors believe that these changes will result in stronger alumnae ties to Mount Holyoke across class year – and now, affinity group – alumnae who feel strongly that they want to attend a reunion on the same weekend as a younger (or older) class in which they have friends are welcome to register for reunion with that class. This is an option open to all alumnae, regardless of class year.

We hope that this provides you with the information you may need to evaluate the Reunion Redo Ad Hoc Committee’s petition proposal. Please feel free to share this with your classmates as you feel appropriate. And as always, if you have any questions about the changes to class distribution at reunion or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Erin Ennis ‘92

Chair, Classes and Reunion Committee
Chair, Reunion Review Task Force, 2010-2011

Cynthia Reed ‘80

President, Alumnae Association

Jane Zachary

Executive Director, Alumnae Association