The grounds are weeded, mulched, pruned, and blooming within an inch of their lives. Banners have been hung, and tents have been erected. It’s Wellesley College graduation time, and it’s a special one this year. First of all, after four years of unremitting labor, the Class of 2017 will receive their diplomas. Oh, and Secretary of State and Wellesley College Class of 1969 alumnae Hillary Clinton will be on hand to deliver remarks.
Tomorrow everyone will be all smiles and tears, but just a few short months ago, the stress level on campus was running high over the upcoming Commencement. According to an editorial in the student newspaper of Wellesley College, The Wellesley News, some students were concerned that Commencement was in danger of becoming more of a post-election rally for Hillary Clinton than a celebration of the Class of 2017 and their families. The idea that a couple thousand alumnae might descend on campus (as they did on election night, hoping to celebrate a big win) was making some graduating seniors wonder if their milestone moment was in jeopardy of being overshadowed by Clinton’s star power. Toss in rumors that Paw Paw and Granny might not be invited due to limited ticketing, and you had a lot of women asking, “Who’s being celebrated here, anyway?”
As it turns out, the administration took matters firmly in hand. Back in March, Clinton spoke at a private event at the college, perhaps taking a bit of the edge off of alumnae demand to see her this week. In a nod to the 570 graduates that their four years of continuous struggle and triumphs counted for pretty much everything, the school instituted a lottery in order to limit the number of alumnae who would be allowed to attend. Such a compromise ensured not only that security and parking would be kept under control, but that extended family members would be warmly welcomed to the campus to witness their student receive her diploma. (You can also see it live streamed.)
So although Wellesley College encourages alumnae to consider the campus something of a second home, for this go around they’ll have to think of that second home as one that’s not available to them this weekend. Kind of like the family lake house that everyone shares, but that you can’t go to when the cousins are taking their summer weekend turn.
Here’s a sneak preview of graduation day. I get to go as press, so thanks for reading The Swellesley Report.