Clark University is celebrating this year’s graduating class with several days of festive Senior Week activities taking place through Commencement.
Sponsored by Clark Undergraduate Student Council, Senior Week features a wide variety of free events for soon-to-be graduates, including on-campus food trucks, arts and crafts, cap decorating, and virtual trivia — as well as several off-campus outings. Clark will also honor graduating BIPOC students with an inaugural Multicultural Celebration and recognize the contributions of students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community during the second annual Lavender Celebration.
“Senior Week is one of Clark’s timeless traditions. As we prepare for Commencement and begin to quiet down, seniors have the campus to themselves, and get to celebrate, honor, and have fun one last time with their classmates,” says Danielle Morgan Acosta, associate dean of students for student engagement. “This year’s team did an amazing job planning a week of activities in and around campus and Worcester safely, while still providing the opportunity for connections and celebration, and weaving new and meaningful events into the calendar.”
Seniors kicked off the week with a trip to Polar Park for a Worcester Red Sox game on Sunday. Free Lyft vouchers were provided for attendees and will be available for the rest of the week for those who wish to travel to several locations throughout the Worcester area, including the Worcester Common, Canal District, Shrewsbury Street, Worcester Art Museum, The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, and The Cascades.
“We are intentional about creating a calendar of activities all seniors will enjoy,” says Allison Shilling, director of campus life for Student Leadership and Programming. “While some students would like to spend their last few days with their friend group playing games, reminiscing about the last couple years, and hanging out on the Green as much as possible, others like to check off items on their Clark or Worcester bucket list before they graduate!”
Monday’s events included a Senior BBQ on the Green, ceramic mug glazing, and a virtual trivia night, while Tuesday featured Zinneken’s Waffle Truck at Atwood Plaza, cap decorating in Tilton Hall, and a Night on the Green.
On Wednesday, seniors can grab coffee and donuts in Red Square from 9:30 to 11 a.m. The Lavender Celebration will be held in the morning and the Multicultural Celebration in the afternoon in Tilton Hall. Both events are open to registered attendees only.
“These celebrations are a way for us to honor and center identity within Senior Week,” says Peyton Wu, director of Multicultural & First Generation Student Support. “We have the larger collective Senior Week experiences, but these celebrations really open the door in terms of how we can also be identity conscious and honor very specific communities as part of the larger celebration.”
This Multicultural Celebration was made possible with support from the Clark Undergraduate Student Council, which played a large role in developing and implementing the idea. The event will recognize and honor the experiences and accomplishments of students of color while also acknowledging that systemic inequities continue to exist within higher education.
“This is meant to create an intentional space that appreciates the members of our BIPOC community,” Wu says. “It’s not only about honoring the students who are graduating, but the faculty, staff, and community members who have helped the students get to this point where they’re now walking across the stage.”
Wu says the goal is to establish an annual celebration that family, friends, and other members of the Clark community can attend to cheer on the graduates.
At the Lavender Celebration, Clark will recognize the achievements of graduating seniors who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Often called Lavender Graduation, this ceremony is a national tradition that has been conducted at colleges and universities across the country since its creation in 1995. This year’s event will be a hybrid celebration that includes a video honoring the graduates.
Seniors at the Lavender Celebration will receive a rainbow tassel and pride pin courtesy of Alumni and Friends Engagement, while graduates at the Multicultural Celebration will receive a stole that they can wear over the gowns. The Lavender Celebration was made possible by the Clark Undergraduate Student Council and Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Planning committee members included Michael Hardej (chair), Jennifer Plante, Jess Ahrens, Mae Hunt, Cherilyn Bonin, Maria Gallant, Michael Vidal, and Wu.
Wednesday’s events will conclude with a paint night in Tilton Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. Up to 50 participants may register here. Thursday’s events include cap decorating from noon to 2 p.m. in Tilton and a trip to Friendly Fire Paintball in Upton from 3 to 5 p.m. (bus leaves at 2:15 p.m.). Attendees can register here. Senior Week will conclude with Uhlman’s ice cream truck at Atwood Plaza on Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It’s a relief and very exciting that the Class of 2021 gets to celebrate after an incredibly long and difficult year,” Shilling says. We are happy to be able to provide an outlet for students to not only let loose in between finals and Commencement, but also reflect on their time at Clark and provide closure as they end this chapter to begin new life experiences.”
For a full schedule of events, daily reflection prompts, and more, follow Clark Senior Week 2021 on Instagram.