On Friday night, the Senior Class Committee and the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) hosted this year’s Senior Soiree, a long-standing tradition celebrating the achievements of the senior class. This year’s Soiree was themed “Heavenly Bodies” after the 2018 Met Gala, and was hosted in Thomas Hall from 8 to 10 p.m.
Approaching this year’s Soiree, Senior Class President Rachel Chen ’24 and the Senior Class Committee focused on the traditional aspects of the event, though the planning was slow-moving at first. “[The Class of 2024] has less of a tie to previous years in terms of traditions,” Chen said in an interview with the Collegian. “It almost felt like we were figuring stuff out for the first time.” In particular, Chen highlighted that much of her inspiration came from last year’s Soiree, along with help from the Junior and Senior Class Committees.
In addition, the Soiree served as a fundraiser for the Student Success Fund. While the event was free to all seniors, students were given the option to donate anywhere from one to 10 dollars when registering for the event. According to Chen, around 68 percent of attendees contributed, hitting the Senior Class Committee’s benchmark of 60 to 70 percent for the event.
Nearly 300 seniors attended the Soiree, according to Chen. As students flooded into Thomas Hall, they were met with a buffet featuring vegan and gluten-free options, a gold-themed photo booth and a chocolate fountain complete with fresh fruit and brownies. The chocolate fountain proved to be a hit among attendees. “I’ve always wanted to go to an event with a chocolate fountain,” Emi Loucks ’24 said in an interview with the Collegian. “That was awesome.”
For many seniors, another standout feature of the event was the free alcoholic beverages, which were available to students age 21 and up. While Soiree has a long history of hospitalizations due to intoxication, recent years have attempted to change that history. Chen added that while there was no limit on the number of drinks a student could have, there was no hard liquor at the event and the Senior Class Committee saw no unruly behavior.
“We were very proactive in making sure that we didn’t leave a mess,” Chen said, noting that a large number of people stayed after Soiree ended to help the Junior Class Committee and the men’s lacrosse team clean up. Chen emphasized that mocktails were also offered for students who did not wish to drink, which was a new addition.
While the champagne, mocktails and chocolate fountain were fun additions to the semi-formal event, many seniors also appreciated the opportunity to unite a class that had started its college years in isolation. “It was really neat to be able to see a bunch of people who I hadn’t really talked to since first year,” Sydney Whitworth ’24 said in an interview with the Collegian. “[We could] connect because we’ve gone through the whole experience together.”
With the senior class beginning their Kenyon experience with online classes and a campus in lockdown, Chen emphasized that this year’s Soiree was both a celebration of what the Class of 2024 has accomplished and a continuation of Kenyon traditions.
“It seems that our class has always felt that we were missing something,” Chen said, discussing the lack of a First Year Sing and the isolation many students experienced throughout their first year. “It’s really nice that we’re able to come back to these traditions and do Soiree, do Fandango and come to new things. This is the best thing that we could have asked for.”