“This week is ‘raw-raw,’” says senior Grace Di Leo. The planning took three months and entailed tight budgeting, Instagram surveys, and an over-email debate with a Dave & Buster’s owner. However, thanks to the Class of 2022 Council members Grace Di Leo and Lea Thome, and the experienced guidance of Senior Associate Director Brian Magee, the sacrifices made to the COVID-19 pandemic will not include any of Senior Week’s fun. According to Thome, the planning for Senior Week, while difficult, has been a priority. “Grace and I have a similar mindset. We get our shit done.”
With canoeing, beer tastings, and a Senior Ball not held since 2019, the seniors have an exciting and uniquely tailored list of events to mark the end of their undergraduate years. The pandemic has led to many layoffs and underemployment, causing prices to skyrocket for everything from food trucks to paintball venues. Additionally, the decision to host Commencement on the same day for all the University’s colleges, both undergraduate and graduate, shortened the typical seven-to-eight days allotted for Senior Week to six. “That’s where ‘intentional programming’ came in,” said Thome. Instead of having events “just to have an event,” as Di Leo put it, activities were curated for their past performances and ability to sell out tickets. Fan favorites include canoeing and kayaking and the Day at the Vineyard. Emotions run high in the days leading up to Commencement, and it is Di Leo’s firm belief that it is crucial to have downtime in order to be with roommates, friends, and other faces you might not see so often after graduation. “Our vision was […] what the class wants […] We were elected to propose these events on behalf of the class.” Both believe that ‘cutting off the fat’ this way will be a strength emulated in future years. In the place of events that could not be realized, Di Leo and Thome organized brand-new and inexpensive activities. Thome spearheaded the development of Library Tower Tours and Clubhouse Henrietta, while Di Leo organized trips to Seneca Park Zoo and Dave & Buster’s.
Even with cost efficiency, pricing challenges still needed to be dealt with. “[Di Leo] managed to single-handedly organize our Senior Night [on East and Alexander],” says Thome. “[She] called the owner of Filgers [East End] and, within five minutes, pulled the deal with special access on our first night of Senior Week, three-dollar drinks, and fast entry to both there and Bar 90 […] she’s so great at selling stuff.” To further reduce costs, the bar events of Senior Night will not be ticketed, and transportation will be openly available, leaving the whole thing virtually free, except for the drinks. The two council members are partial to Filgers but believe they may first pay a visit to One Nightclub. Both were also extended an invitation to lunch by the owner of Dave & Buster’s, who negotiated over a long email chain to reduce his initial price of rent and food services.
Unlike last year, there will be no pod system or social distancing, which will allow people to attend and fully enjoy events with their friends. Such a system actively discouraged people from participating last year. While Di Leo looks forward to paintball, and Thome is partial to the Library Tower Tours, both are eagerly anticipating the return of the Senior Ball, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency downtown with commodities such as appetizers, a DJ, and an open bar. “It’s like a second prom,” Di Leo says. Although tickets will be slightly more expensive at $55, other events’ ticket prices have been lowered and “no matter what, people will end up being fairly charged.”
In rehearsal, 24 hours before commencement, Di Leo and Thome will give a speech, and along with the other Class Council members will, says Thome, “give a toast and roast our time at the University.” Class of 2022 President Victoria Liverpool will speak on the day of actual Commencement. Ultimately, both Di Leo and Thome said they want everyone to celebrate their own academic effort and to unite one last time before venturing off, and they sincerely hope that everything they have planned will provide that closure. “I know I’ll be crying a lot,” says Thome.