Queen's University

Class of '82 celebrates its 30th in a meaningful way

Academically, Queen’s is divided into faculties much like any other Canadian university. Socially, however, I have found that the deepest friendships typically began in residence, evolved through shared experiences in the ghetto and cut across faculty lines to the benefit of everyone. So it has always puzzled me why the activities around Homecoming and Reunions revolve almost exclusively around individual faculties.

[photo of the Class of 1982 reunion] Photo by Palmer Nelson, Artsci'82

Science '82 always had the highest turnout and organized the best events, closely followed by the Commies. Since Arts and Science never seemed to have its act together, orphaned ArtSci ‘82 alumni would often end up crashing these events and we were always welcomed with open arms! By the end of the weekend people across the entire Class of ‘82 found ways to connect with friends regardless of which faculty they belonged and left with promises to return in 5 years.

Such was the pattern for all our previous reunions. For our 30th, however, no fall Homecoming date had been set by the University, leaving our class with no way to ensure a true ’82 reunion. Perhaps not surprisingly it was Sci ’82’s Catherine Ella who stepped forward to suggest that our entire year agree to gather on the same September weekend and come together for an all-faculty party at Alfie’s on Saturday night. That laid the foundation for a very special reunion weekend indeed.

Starting in late 2011, reunion committees from all faculties set in motion the planning. We agreed to share ideas and struck a separate group to plan the all-faculty party at Alfie’s. It was at this point that my good friends Palmer Nelson and Tim Sellers suggested we use the event to raise money to support a very special cause with particular relevance to the members of the Class of '82: The Jack Project.

Eric Windeler (B.Comm ‘82) launched The Jack Project with his family after his son Jack died by suicide in his first year at Queen’s in 2010. We reached out to Eric over a lunch and I knew from his reaction that we were about to embark on something very special.

Clearly, however, Eric knew more than he was able to share with me at the time. Turns out he was already in talks with Queen’s regarding a closer relationship with the University. Eric was initially impressed by Queen’s support during his family’s difficult time, but with the release of the Principal’s Commission on Mental Health, Eric became convinced that the university was moving in the right direction. He believed that Jack’s powerful story could add to the momentum and leadership at Queen’s. Indeed, two weeks before our reunion, Principal Woolf announced that The Jack Project was moving to Queen’s where it will work to support mental health initiatives on campus and engage more directly with students. And thanks to the tireless efforts of Eric, his wife Sandra Hanington and a dedicated group of student volunteers, the Class of ‘82 was able to raise an astounding $250,000 to kick-start The Jack Project @ Queen’s. These efforts will benefit the Queen’s community, but also be shared and involve students and schools across Canada.

The weekend itself was a resounding success with friends from all faculties moving seamlessly from one amazing event to another regardless of faculty affiliation. Clark Hall Friday afternoon was followed by an evening pub crawl Friday night. Saturday morning began with class pictures followed by the football game, faculty dinners and private gatherings. The party at Alfie’s felt like we were back in The Underground in 1979, as over 250 sweaty young-at-heart '82 Alumni danced and sang right through last call and two encores (courtesy of our very own 20th Century Boys led by alumni Dave Fraser and Warren Everson). For most of us the weekend wrapped up way too quickly, but such is the case whenever good friends gather at Queen’s, happily catching up on many lost years and pledging to do it all again in 2017. Mark your calendar, tell your friends and see you all in 5 years!

Check out more memories from the Class of 1982 reunion.

For more info on The Jack Project @ Queen’s see:
thejackproject.org  unleashthenoise.com  rideforjack.com

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2013-02-11
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