Smith celebrates the start of a new academic year at convocation



 Students and faculty members at Smith celebrated the start of the new academic year at convocation on the evening of September 6. Classes began on Thursday, September 7.

   The celebratory, student-focused college tradition first introduced by the college’s first female president Jill Ker Conway in 1975 now features house-themed costumes, house chants and minimal clothing. 

As a tradition, students go to convocation with their housemates, dress up according to the theme of the house and chant and cheer for their house. Only senior students are allowed to wear hats or other types of headwear.

   In recent years, the college has made efforts to address the alcohol consumption and the noise level by adding a carnival after the celebration and police supervision.

   At convocation, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney welcomed students of each class year and congratulated the achievements made by students. Abby Bergman ’18, who successfully crossed the English Channel this summer, received a special shout out. 

President McCartney also encouraged students to “be loud at this critical moment,” referring to the current challenging political climate. 

   The faculty speaker, Professor Sara Pruss of the Geoscience Department, promised that the faculty members care for the social justice cause. 

“Here is what matters the most to the Smith faculty – Black Lives Matter,” Pruss said to a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd.

   Katie Chong ’18, president of the Student Government Association, also addressed the crowd in regards to the difficult political environment. She promised that the SGA “would be here for you,” and encouraged fellow students to “show the world that we lead this fight, because if we don’t, who will?”

   Convocation ended in cheers as students rushed out to the Campus Center to join the carnival after convocation, which was hosted in the Campus Center due to inclement weather. 

Hosted by the Student Events Committee, the carnival was added as part of the official welcome to the community in 2014, as an experiment to make convocation more inclusive of the entire community. 

The Campus Center was crowded with students enjoying snacks, food, live music, photo booth and dance, despite substantial supervision. 

   For first-year students, the welcome does not end at convocation. This year, the new six-week First-Year Experience program offers students a comprehensive introduction to life at Smith beyond orientation. The program provides a variety of activities to prepare first-years for the experiences and resources available at Smith, from time management workshops to outdoor adventures. 

This year, Smith College also welcomes 13 new tenure-track faculty members who are joining the Smith community to teach in subject areas ranging from anthropology to statistical and data sciences.