Freshmen, meet your alumni pals

Class Connections program hopes to strengthen ties across class years

On Family Weekend, freshmen, their families, and alumni came together for a meet-and-greet over dessert, the first official Class Connections event. Muise estimates that there were about ten alumni at the event.

Class Connections is a new program that aims to partner the freshman class with alumni who will be celebrating milestone reunions in the year of their graduation. This year, freshmen are partnered with the Class of 1989 and the Class of 1964, who will be having their 25th and 50th renunions in 2014. The idea is to foster communication between the three classes for the four years the Class of 2014 is at MIT.

The program was first announced to the Class of 2014 at Convocation, when President Susan J. Hockfield addressed the incoming students.

At the event two weeks ago, the large number of parents caused some confusion — many freshmen were not able to tell the alumni from the parents.

Many other freshmen did not think the event was relevant to them, so they did not attend. “It didn’t seem interesting,” said Emily L. Hupf ’14. “It seemed like it would be more a business-like meeting…rather than learning about life at MIT.”

Despite the snags, Daesun Yim ’14, the 2014 Class Council president said the event was mostly a success. “We learned a lot about planning future events,” he said.

The program is intended to benefit both students and alumni, informing alumni of things happening on campus and helping students get a sense of life beyond MIT. “Alumni are always interested in students and what students are doing,” said Peter F. Muise, Director of Reunions and Class Programs.

“For students, there is curiosity about what life is like after MIT and what life was like at MIT for alumni,” he added.

Members of the class councils from all three classes have met to discuss the future of the program. “We discussed our goals and concrete ideas of how we would proceed,” said Jonathan Chien ’14, a 2014 Class Council publicity co-chair.

“The program is still in its infancy,” Yim said. Chien also said the program is currently “slightly undefined in its goals,” but that the Council is learning how to best take advantage of the program as they go.

The Alumni Association plans to continue the Class Connections program for future freshman classes. The program for the 2014s should extend throughout their four years at MIT.

The Association is trying to stay hands-off for now. “A lot of it depends on what the officers in the classes are interested in doing,” said Muise. “We’re trying to let it grow organically.”

Muise notes the current plan is to have campus be the center of the program, but there is interest in expanding beyond campus, possibly through a virtual network or by connecting students with alumni in their hometowns. Chien discussed a possible pen-pal program, which would pair students with alumni based on shared interests.