Student Volunteers Keep Alumni Weekend Humming

Student Volunteers Keep
Alumni Weekend Humming

by James Wright '13
6/8/11

student volunteers
More than 100 Alumni Weekend student volunteers helped keep three days of events running smoothly.

While alumni - naturally - were the focus of Swarthmore's annual Alumni Weekend, the back scenes of the College were abuzz with approximately 112 student workers busily working to ensure that the weekend's events went off smoothly and punctually. From their headquarters in Sproul, the students cut striking figures across campus in their blue "Parrish Beach Patrol" shirts. So although much of the weekend showcased the past and present accomplishments of generations of graduates, every blue shirt was a reminder that many chapters of Swarthmore success are yet to be written.

As transportation was a critical component of the weekend's success, teams of students manned a necessary fleet of golf carts. Unleashed upon the grounds, they delivered food, beverages, and whatever else the moment called for, as well as picking up alumni in need of a lift. Students also served as valets, class liaisons, bartenders, and babysitters, among a variety of jobs. Coolers were stocked, platters were full, and - above all else - palates were satisfied.

The action all unfolded under the watchful eyes of the student "Golf Cart Czars." Situated in a command center amidst a cornucopia of fascinating college trinkets, they delegated work efficiently and quickly, utilizing walkie talkies and headsets to coordinate with their drivers dispersed across campus. Once a request came in for either a delivery or to pick up an alum, the job was dispatched over the radio or to a lounging worker. Even during hectic surges of activity, the command center was bustling but on point - and stocked with its own food, beverage, and good cheer. 

The focus rarely left Alumni Weekend, however, and with a cast of colorful characters on campus, the students in the command center had ample tales to share. Talk of the day centered on sightings of literary superstar Jonathan Franzen '81, here for his class' 30th reunion.

During a break, Alysha Newton '12 relayed the impression, much to the delight of her fellow workers, from a student who met him on her rounds. "Apparently she got her copy of Freedom signed," she said, "and I'm happy to report his hair is just as amazing in real life as it is on the flap."

Zachary Leonard '12 further noted that there was an undeniable connection to the alumni he met. "You can just feel that, despite the number of years you may be out of the bubble, a Swattie's a Swattie," says Leonard, a sociology and anthropology major from Wilmington, Del. "For these alums, the campus has changed, the rules have changed, the demographics, everything - but the essence of Swarthmore remains constant."