Hopkins Alumni Association announced that Homewood’s Alumni Weekend will be held online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual Alumni Weekend will consist of various events from Thursday, May 14 through Sunday, May 17.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Senior Associate Director of the Homewood Reunion Program Pat Conklin said that they have decreased their Alumni Weekend programming to 30 virtual events, down from a typical 120.
Hullabalooza, the traditional kick-off event for the weekend, will still occur featuring Baltimore-based DJ Kopec. It will be held on Thursday, May 14 from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time via Facebook Live. Conklin, however, expressed regret about the limitations of holding a virtual event.
“Even though we will be going into people’s homes and doing it with a DJ, we really cannot recreate the feeling that you get with 800 to 900 alum, students, faculty and staff in the tent on the Decker Quad dancing to the live band,” she said.
Associate Director of the Homewood Reunion Program Kayce Robinson echoed Conklin’s sentiments but stressed the impact that the virtual Alumni Weekend will have on alums and other Hopkins affiliates.
“It will be an upbeat feel of what we can do these days to bring some positivity into the lives of our alumni,“ Robinson said. “Since we are so restricted in what we are doing on campus, what better way is there than to bring Hopkins to you?”
Events during the Alumni Weekend including Hullabalooza typically feature a variety of student groups. However, Robinson said that many of the student groups previously planning to host events are no longer interested. She noted that student groups are still welcome to participate.
Outgoing Executive President Dean Chien of the Student Government Association (SGA) and SGA President-elect Sam Mollin both confirmed that SGA would not be directly participating in any events during the virtual Alumni Weekend.
The virtual Alumni Weekend will include several events meant to replicate notable events that can no longer occur.
A men’s lacrosse game is another one of Alumni Weekend’s main traditions. As the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) cancelled all winter and spring championships, a game won’t occur this year. Conklin said that they will instead broadcast the 2005 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship game with a Hopkins victory against Duke.
There will also be crab cake demonstrations by Chef John Shields, co-owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant in the Baltimore Museum of Art, on Saturday, May 16 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. This event will be held in lieu of the traditional crab cake luncheon. Conklin said that alums will be able to order crab cakes as well.
“We are going to give the alums, through Baltimore Local — which is one of President Daniel’s initiatives — the opportunity to order their own crab cakes,” said Conklin. “They can order them ahead of time, and while they are watching the demonstration, they can be enjoying the crab cakes and thinking about times on Hopkins campus.”
In an email to The News-Letter, Alumni Student Ambassador Bianca Nakar wrote that the Alumni Weekend is still heavily anticipated by alums and other Hopkins affiliates, despite being held virtually.
“The alumni are definitely still excited to be participating in the weekend. With everything being so uncertain right now a virtual weekend would still give students and Alumni some opportunity to connect given our unique circumstances,” Nakar wrote.
Conklin acknowledged the difficulties in engaging older classes virtually but said that the virtual Alumni Weekend will nevertheless be a way to bring the Hopkins community together. She added that alums and other Hopkins affiliates would be able to access events through a mobile app.
“It is an interesting opportunity, because everybody is sheltering in place, so it will bring them to the Hopkins sense of camaraderie and togetherness,“ she said. “Collaboratively, you can feel like you are on campus within this group. You are apart, but you are together.”