Loosened Pandemic Restrictions Mark the Return of Many Senior Traditions

Karenna Warden, Assistant Sports Editor

As restrictions loosen amid what some have called a shift to an “endemic” response to COVID-19 on campus, traditions for the senior class that have not taken place since prior to the pandemic’s outbreak — ones the class of 2021 largely missed out on — returned this semester. Many members of the class of 2022 said events like the recent senior wine tasting, held by University President Brian Casey, as well as the senior ball, have felt especially meaningful after the changes COVID-19 has brought to much of their college experience. 

Amidst these traditions also comes the return of an unmasked commencement ceremony. This year, commencement will include a senior dinner, a capella concert and the longstanding tradition in the torchlight procession from the Memorial Chapel down the hill to Willow Path. While this walk occurred last year, as of now, this year’s seniors will experience the event maskless and without social distancing restrictions. 

Senior Class President Spencer Seaman said the torch medal ceremony, which will accompany torchlight, is among the events she most looks forward to.

“You get this medal and you’re able to give it to any person who had an impact on you — it could be a professor or another staff or support staff member here,” Seaman said, who may give her medal to one of her faculty advisors. As 2022 class council president, Seaman works weekly with Colgate’s Center for Leadership Involvement (CLSI) staff in planning many of the traditional events for the senior class. Alongside class council vice-president Tori Sternhof, Seaman planned the senior ball, held on Friday, March 25. With a turnout of around 500, this event involved an ice sculpture, catered food, and a photo booth. 

“It was very rewarding to see all this planning we had done for the event paying off,” Seaman said. “It was definitely one of those moments.”  

Seaman also touched on the excitement of the event’s venue, the Hall of Presidents. The HOP has served many functions for Colgate students over the last few years– including a center for COVID testing and the check-in space for first-year orientation. “Being able to use the venues of all of the Hall of Presidents showed the strength that everyone was developing,” Seaman said.

After planning this event, Seaman and Sternhof look forward to planning an event called senior sips, where Colgate will provide food from the Good Nature Farm Brewery, located on Route 12-B, and other local businesses in the town of Hamilton. 

Seaman hopes to continue to bring students together, leading with integrity. Senior Sophia Beresford said the senior ball represented a ‘full-circle moment’ and reflected on taking photos in the photo booth at the event much like she did as a first-year. Beresford also enjoyed the wine night, an event also held in the Hall of Presidents and was much the talk of town among the 2022 senior class.

“Seeing President Casey and Gary Ross from admissions was fun. It was good to see mostly familiar faces,” Beresford said.

Beresford, who describes herself as a social person, is especially happy to be engaging with her 2022 peers and fellow classmates again. Additionally, as Black Student Union President, she also engages with underclassman peers, aiming to ensure the longevity of the club. “As a student leader, making sure you cultivate relationships with underclassmen, the last thing you want to know is to know that what you established collapsed,” Beresford said.

The return of these traditional celebrations initially hung in the balance when the class of 2022 returned to campus this past Fall. The resurgence of these events provides a perspective for underclassmen on the importance of tradition, celebration, and bringing class years together – especially in their final semester at Colgate.

“While this year’s seniors may have been worrying for years if their senior year would resemble what they’d come to expect from their pre-Covid experience, underclassmen may be unaware of the importance these traditional celebrations have for the graduating class,” said Student Body President Elle Winter.