Stanford Reunion Homecoming always warms me up in the best way. Oddly situated within midterm season, it is a gentle reminder that there is a life after Stanford. With around 6,000 attendees, previous Stanford classes make their presence felt on campus as they swarm once again. With red lanyards around their necks and a general sense of confusion, they might even remind you of frosh during New Student Orientation.
However, you’ll quickly realize they’re not frosh when they start sharing stories about how “back in my day” Casper Quad didn’t exist. They’ll also think that Branner Hall is the worst hall. They might even ask you if the Tequila Lounge still exists. A few questions later, and then you’ll see that they’ve slowly come to terms with the idea that the Stanford they once knew has changed.
Homecoming, however, reveals a lot more about previous Stanford classes than you’d think. Each class has such a different vibe to it that if you were forced to identify an individual given only a quote, you probably could distinguish between the class of ’69 and ’74. Most interestingly, you can see how each class built on each other’s legacy. It is also interesting to see where Stanford stands now and where it stood back then.
One of my favorite questions to ask alumni is what they see now that they wish they had back in their day. The answers usually result in an endorsement of some of the things Stanford has done right: increased support for the first-generation and/or low-income (FLI) community, a greater focus on service and more support for community centers. It is also humbling to meet some of the students from previous classes who fought for all these aforementioned changes.
Homecoming not only highlights these different communities, but it also shows the great differences within. Within every class, you can find individuals from all walks of life at very different stages in their journeys. Young alums, for example, might have just started their first business or recently become parents, while other alums might have just moved across the country. Other alums already have children in kindergarten while some might even have students at Stanford.
It goes to show that there’s a life beyond the Farm, and it also grounds you to know that your time on this campus is finite — but hopefully, it’s being well spent.
Contact Richard Coca at richcoca ‘at’ stanford.edu.