May. 8, 2017

Months before alumni return and students graduate, Facilities starts planning year-end activities. The gears move quietly at first, with each group dusting off last years' plans and taking inventory. As April progresses things really get moving and we start to see the visible signs of reunions appear on campus. And when May hits, the gears start going into overdrive and don't stop until commencement and reunion equipment gets cleared away. 

We do this every year, yet every year the entire process still appears miraculous. We gathered a few interesting facts and numbers to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the campus transformation known as Reunions (and Class day and Commencement).

Interesting fact #1 - Three transformations

The campus is transformed not just once, but three times over the course of five days. The first, and largest, transformation is for alumni reunions, from fencing class headquarter sites to supporting multiple reunion celebrations Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The second and third transformations begin Sunday morning before sunrise. Shortly after the final reunion celebrations have ended, we're here at 5am to transform the entire north side of campus for Class day and Commencement activities. Yes, reunions are just ending and our campus grounds and sanitation crews continue their work to prepare for graduation activities and ensure our campus is looking beautiful.

Interesting fact #2 - By the numbers

The first visible signs of reunions show up in May, yet we begin in April taking inventory, replacing platforms, counting equipment and laying out the huge puzzle of what goes where when. Once we get into full reunion prep mode, our carpenters install 4,100+ feet of fencing around 16 class headquarter sites. Our electricians install electrical panels and run over 80,000 feet of cables to power lights, DJs, popcorn machines, and even bouncy houses. Almost 150 tents start peppering the landscape, providing 276,000+ sqft of tent space. Under our tents we usually lay down special flooring to protect our green lawns, build 20 stages and build 16 dance floors, giving our alumni & students 1,110 sqft of stage and 29,000 sqft of dance-the-night-away space. Our carpenters use 78,500+ screws to put all these elements together. Our movers deliver truckloads of party rental equipment, including 2,300+ tables and 24,000+ chairs, and keep moving items around all weekend. Imagine a large puzzle of party items, put together in different shapes, sizes and locations, over five days of celebrations. We do spend some time on these wonderful year-end activities, when our movers, custodians and sanitation crews log 5,500+ hours over 6 days and our carpenters, grounds and electrical crews rack up 14,000+ hours over two months.

Interesting fact #3 - Speedy cleanup

We've learned a thing or two about trash over the decades. We have a large clean up crew follow the last P-raders cleaning up while the parade is still winding its way down Elm Drive. Last year the clean up was so fast, literally minutes behind the parade, only decades worth of tradition confirmed the P-rade actually happened! And thanks to our Sustainability EcoReps 70+ bags of P-rade waste gets recycled!

Interesting fact #4 - Field of chairs

We get more chairs. For commencement, we rent and unfold an additional 10,000 chairs to place in front of Nassau Hall, spacing and laying out the chairs with amazing uniformity. We've even developed our own tool to space the chairs just-right. If rain comes after we setup, well, we get a lot of towels and staff and try to dry off all 10,000 chairs before commemcement. If the weather really doesn't cooperate and we get the 'rain call', we move the entire set up to Jadwin Gym.

Interesting fact #5 - Sustainability ideas

There's always room for new ideas. A new Sustainability program, BYOB = Bring Your Own Bedding, designed to reduce packaging waste from rental bedding was piloted in 2016 with the Classes of 1986 and 2015. These groups were given the option to use their own bedding in campus dorms for a discounted room rate, rather than renting linens for three days. 27% of the class of 2016 and 32% of the class of 1986 opted to bring their own bedding. The program, with both sustainability and financial benefits, was so well received the “BYOB” option has been offered to all classes this year. Another sustainability initiative, aimed to reduce the use of disposable plastic water bottles during reunions, introduced "Water Monsters" along the P-rade route and in lot 23, as well as encouraged everyone to fill up at one of the 200+ free filtered water stations in campus buildings.  

Congratulations to our graduates, their families and our alumni

Our Facilities staff members perform this miracle every year, and we wouldn't have it any other way. We hope everyone enjoys their celebrations, stays safe and has a fantasic weekend - you earned it!