In the final few days of the 2018-2019 academic year, the cohort of 2015 and one faculty member will embark on a brief, scenic voyage, puttering along the Sarasota Bay. However, the cohort will face one small problem: the charter boat cannot fit the entire graduating class. The cohort of 2015 has around 200 graduating students, while the charter boat can only fit 110 people. This year, thesis students Eleni Spanolios, Evan Teal, Paola Baez-Perez and Riley Lewis have volunteered to organize the event. Instead of limiting the celebrations to just half of cohort, they came up with the idea to hold a pre-cruise celebration for the entire class. The Miami Vice-themed party will allow the entire graduating class the chance to celebrate together before Commencement.
“The pre-party is just meant for our whole graduating class—because we have almost 200 people graduating—to be able to enjoy some sort of festivities during that final week,” Spanolios said. “We can only fit 110 people on the cruise. It does cut out about half of the people that our graduating class has.”
The Graduation Sunset Cruise, colloquially known as “Booze Cruise,” has provided graduating students the chance to celebrate their achievements for a little less than 20 years now. A charter boat takes the students out on the water in the early evening, allowing them to purchase drinks, celebrate and watch the sun dip into the Gulf of Mexico. Last year, five faculty members were invited to join the students on the cruise. One of the invited faculty, Professor of Classics Carl Shaw, shared his experience last year at the event with the Catalyst in an email interview.
“To be honest, this was one of my favorite New College experiences in recent years,” Shaw said. “I had a fantastic conversation with [Professor of French and Gender Studies Amy Reid], whom I don’t really get to just chat with very frequently; and a handful of students approached me to discuss their future plans or the experience of having me at their [baccalaureate] exam. But the highlight is the overall mood that the students bring to the cruise. Everyone just seems happy. The setting is beautiful. The music is loud, and people are dancing and singing. There is a tangible, infectious jubilation that I wish we all had more of in our lives.”
This year, only one faculty member selected by thesis students will be invited to accompany them on the cruise. Without any passover documents or communication with previous organizers, Spanolios had no information about how the event had been planned before. When made aware about last year’s five invited faculty members, Spanolios explained that since the space on the boat was already so slim, they would still stick with the one invitation this year.
Baez-Perez, Lewis, Spanolios and Teal have the burden of planning this celebration on their own. The Student Activities and Campus Engagement (SA[u]CE) Office, the New College Foundation and Coordinator of Administrative Services Dawn Shongood are also lending their services to make the cruise and pre-party a reality. The funding for the cruise typically comes from the New College Student Alliance (NCSA) budget, but this year’s monetary support will come from the Student Allocations Committee (SAC). The four thesis students will ask the SAC to allocate $5,000 for the charter boat, two buses and the pre-party.
“There’s a line on the [NCSA] budget that says Graduation Celebration, which we were told was just for the graduation food at the ceremony,” Spanolios said. “I think that that line also covered the cruise, but we cut it out of the budget for this year. That’s why we’re going through the SAC this time, but next year we’ll have it back in a line of the budget: to have at least $4,200 allocated for the Graduation Celebration Cruise.”
The four thesis students will also meet with the Foundation and request that they help contribute money to provide food at the pre-party.
“[We’re hoping to] maybe get some hot catered food [at the party], and then we’re going to try to get some Publix catering for the boat,” Spanolios said.
Once the organizers obtain the money, then Shongood can make steps to reserve the key features for the cruise.
“She pretty much does all of the specific logistics and books the cruise—the boat itself—as well as the buses,” Lewis said.
In past years, the Foundation has held receptions for whoever attended the sunset cruise, but the current organizers wanted to relocate the pre-party to a more central area.
“I know last year they had one at the Keating Center, and so the Foundation was in charge of that,” Spanolios said. “This year we want to have it in front of Hamilton [“Ham”] Center, maybe on Z-Green or outside the Sudakoff area, so that it’s more accessible for students to get there, but the Foundation will still be there. It’s a chance to have fun before going on the cruise and to meet the Foundation people, so that they introduce themselves to us and the Alumni Association.”
The event is still far off in the distance, but time moves differently relative to those who thesis, so, in theory, the cruise is right around the corner. Graduating students should expect more information from the organizers about the pre-party and the cruise, to be released on Thursday, Mar. 7.
“If other people want to help out as we get closer for decorating or for the pre-party, we’d be more than happy to take more people on,” Spanolios said.