The Super Bowl attracts a wide range of viewers to its TVs, drawing both sports fans and those who simply crave a night of good entertainment. Besides the game, people stick around to catch the iconic commercials, and this year’s ads seemed to maintain one prevalent theme: family. This weekend’s Super Bowl festivities also coincided with another set of events that emphasized family and community, this time in the University setting, including First Night and the series of events hosted by the Career Development Center (CDC), in which different classes had the opportunity to interact with the alumni network.

In general, many people know the University for its robust alumni network and the sheer excitement University students and alumni seem to experience when they spot another person donning anything with the University name on it, regardless of where in the world they might be. Somehow, our relatively small university seems to be everywhere. This is largely thanks to the tight-knit community of alumni who continue to exude passion for the University.

When speaking about the University’s strong sense of family, the Editorial Board pointed out a disconnect in the period between the tight bonds formed during orientation and the closeness of the alumni association. From the sight of the “Welcome Home” banner hanging on Rooke Chapel while pulling into campus on Move-In Day, to the first time a first-year turned around to his or her friend in the library exasperated and said “I can’t wait to go home,” to their downhill dorm following a long day of classes and homework uphill, the beginning of freshman year builds a community. A group of a couple-hundred strangers dubs one another as family under the sole premise of a mutual class year. The strong sense of community formed during Orientation and the first few weeks of freshman year can only be paralleled to the community found between alumni. Somehow, along the way, students still exude a high sense of pride for the Orange and Blue, but lose that strong sense of all-encompassing family.

This lack of interest can be seen almost immediately when comparing First Night to any Orientation event. Whereas Orientation saw students flocking to anything and everything in hopes of meeting more people, First Night saw students unenthused, with much of the class of 2018 not even attending the traditional event. The number of factions of the student body seems to increase tenfold when students reach higher grades and form strong affiliations with groups such as Greek organizations. These divides allow for smaller families but seem to take away from the larger University community.

Events such as First Night and this weekend’s CDC-led class events are integral to catalyzing students’ realization of the importance of participating in the greater University community sooner rather than later. While events leading up to graduation manage to bring the senior class together at the end of it all, many students regret not holding the University community in its entirety as their “family.” Reflective alumni and seniors often digress, describing how they wish they had interacted with their professors more, branched out from their immediate friend groups, and embraced the campus in its entirety. Occasions such as the one this weekend help bring everyone, or at least entire classes, together, breaking boundaries associated with Greek affiliations, majors, and other separating forces.

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