I walk into Reid on a Thursday afternoon to pick up my mail and my senses are immediately bombarded with the sounds of our prestigious alumni and their hoards of near-identical spawn, checking in for their weekend of nostalgia and quiet desperation. For students, alumni weekend provides a sobering realization that their future as a child-toting alumnus donned in un-ironic “Whitman Dad” gear is only a few resume lines away.
Across the room, I see a student heading to the ballroom to network with the alumni. He tells me he has been in the SEC all week preparing his resume for this momentous weekend where he will no doubt be offered his choice of minimally engaging, unpaid internships in exchange for his experience as a summer camp counselor. As he tells me this, I watch his gaze become distant while he contemplates hope, freedom and the mortal shackles of his five year plan.
As I make my way across campus, I see Whitties and their L.L. Bean catalog children frolicking around Ankeny reliving the days of yore. I hear a pair of current students observing the scene with distress. “Is that our future?” lamented one, “is that all there is? Marrying a Whitman student and exchanging my Chacos for a sensible pair of Keens?” The contemplative silence is interrupted as her phone buzzes with an email from Noah Leavitt about taking advantage of the Whitman alumni network.
On the other side of Ankeny, a former and current Whitman student stand facing one another, eyes locked, stuck in an endless game of mirroring each other’s movements as they jointly commune with the spirits of Marcus and Narcissa. Kathy Murray watches from the clocktower as the homogeneity of the upper middle class PNW donor archetype takes hold of campus. The two Whitties emerge from their seance, equally convinced of the ethical merits of a need-sensitive financial aid system.
Alumni continue to wander the halls of campus staring uncomfortably long at all of the students going about their routines. The students stare back to discern which older versions of themselves will be crashing their parties later that night. Both contemplate their fleeting youths as a lone frisbee sails through the night.