There was a wonderful display of the continuity of Dartmouth this morning as members of the Class of 1969 presented a gift to members of the Class of 2019.
Underneath a sparkling green and white tent in front of the Blunt Alumni Center, four alumni delivered a presentation and a commemorative coffee mug to each first-year student. Organized in groups of about 25 students by their residence hall floor, the students had just finished visiting Parkhurst Hall, where they shook the hand of President Philip J. Hanlon ’77. (Classes begin September 16.)
During the 6-7 minute talks, which were both serious and funny, students seemed moved by the dedication of alumni and the history of Dartmouth. “It was impressive that they would take the time out to do that,” said Olivia Harvey '19 of Schendectady, NY. “I get the impression that tradition is an important part of this school.” Austin Meacham '69 of West Harrison, NY, said, “It made me feel even more connected to Dartmouth.”
With dry humor, Rick Willets '69 looked 50 years into the future and told the '19s to give their 50-year connection class, the Class of 2069, his regards. Ja-laquan Mitchell '19 of Dayton, OH, was so moved by this idea that he loitered after the rest of his group had left. Then he used his iPhone to film Willets saying hello to the Class of 2069. Mitchell said, “I’ll put this on a computer, on a USB drive, whatever I can think of, to try to preserve it for the next 50 years.”
As the sun burnt off the fog and shined on the well-dressed students, conversations ebbed and flowed between the past and the future. Bill Stableford '69 jumped in at one point to recall a story about a good-natured rivalry, 50 years ago, between residents of Hitchcock and Russell Sage. Field hockey player Rebecca Hu ’15 stopped by to say hello to her father, Chris Hu ’69, and elder Hu recalled his decision 50 years ago to choose Hanover over New York City, even though his father was a professor at Columbia. “Just look around this morning—how could a student not want to be at Dartmouth?” he asked.
The '69s said the Class of 2019 banner will be presented to the '19s after Commencement. They were also told that the Class of 1969 tent is as open to them as it is to '69s. The '19s were specifically invited to the tent for a tailgate prior to the Homecoming football game against Yale on October 10. “We’re here for you, and we’re very interested in your path during your four years at Dartmouth,” said Paul Tuhus '69. “We hope she casts her spell on you as she did on us.”