Molly McGuire ’18
On Sept. 7, President Kathleen McCartney greeted Smith students returning from their summer vacations as she began the annual Convocation ceremony. Students sat with their houses and chanted their house cheers or just yelled in excitement as the beginning of the year was officially about to start.
Each year, students go to John M. Greene Hall the night before classes begin in order to bring in the new academic year. Faculty members deliver speeches and sit in full robes, while students wear costumes according to their house’s theme, which changes every year.
McCartney’s remarks addressed her recent letter to the Smith community about inclusion, diversity and equity on campus, which came out earlier that same day. In this letter, she illustrated the Smith administration’s plans to “continue our sustained work to build a just and inclusive campus,” as well as address global climate change and commit to education access.
McCartney also addressed relevant renovations on campus, mentioning the upcoming reveal of Maya Lin’s design for Neilson Library on Oct. 14.
“Have you all been to my house lately?” she asked the audience, referring to the renovation of her garden that began this past summer. The garden will now be fully accessible to the community and has been named The Happy Chace ’28 Garden.
After McCartney’s address, Sociology Professor Payal Banerjee spoke in front of the audience, followed by the Student Government Association President, Janis Luke ‘17.
Luke ‘17 began her address to the student body saying, “I am excited to use the fervor this campus has for social justice and equity to make a difference by helping Smith become more accessible to all Smithies, especially those of us who are a part of marginalized communities.” This continued the theme of planning to fight to improve social justice issues on campus this academic year.
Throughout the ceremony, there were frequent mentions of the current presidential election. The crowd broke out in chanting, “F*** Donald Trump!” twice during Convocation.
Luke ’17 also touched upon the issues surrounding the election at the conclusion of her speech. She said, “As we get ready for the 2016 presidential elections, the outcome of which will directly affect the world that all of us graduate into, I ask: what will you do, where will you be, and what will you say? Let your fervent voices now transcend these Smith borders, so that they may transcend hatred and bigotry at the polls, as well.”
Each year, the Smith College Glee Club also performs a popular song during the ceremony. For this Convocation, they invited students to join them as they sang “We’re All In This Together” from the 2006 Disney Channel original movie High School Musical.
After the Convocation ceremony, there was a carnival on Chapin Lawn, which provided free food, shirts, music and a bounce machine for the students to enjoy. This component of the ceremony, which was added four years ago, is fairly new, but is already very popular.
This ceremony has changed dramatically since the early years of Smith when students would dress formally. Now, it is a chance for students to express themselves in various ways that promote body positivity, pride for their houses and lots of glitter.