For Queen’s engineering alumni, Ritual moves online for Homecoming 2020

Posted on October 14, 2020

With little over a week to spare, the Advancement team in the Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science convened a planning meeting with Dean Kevin Deluzio and two of the faculty’s 2020 Homecoming alumni class leaders to finalize plans for Queen’s first ever virtual homecoming.

The purpose of the day’s Zoom chat was to walk through a fully stocked agenda for an event unique to the Faculty of Engineering alumni: ViRitual at Clark Hall Pub.

Toby Thomas (Sci'85) with tricolour mask
Toby Thomas (Sci'85)

There will be no football game, no parade, no Dean’s Pancake Breakfast in the Faculty of Engineering, but beginning at 6:45pm on Saturday, October 17 there will be a virtual Ritual celebration.

Martha van Berkel (Sci’00) checked in on this day from Guelph and Toby Thomas (Sci’85) joined the call from his home in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The two chatted like old friends, making the best of this year’s homecoming conundrum, at times nearly oblivious to those also on the line.

“This will be so good,” said Martha. “There’s always so much stress around getting hotel rooms and finding places to stay at homecoming. And now nobody will have to stand in line outside Clark for three, four hours. Right?”

“I was really bummed that we can’t be there,” Toby added, “so I’m delighted now to enable and help facilitate some connection and have some fun.”

Dean Deluzio plans to provide a faculty overview and Eric Tremblay, the director of the Faculty of Engineering Teaching & Learning team will share news about the faculty’s pivot to online learning, both of which our alum reportedly have been curious to learn more about since COVID-19 forced nearly all instruction off campus in March. And there are some surprises planned as well: an interactive musical guest, a cocktail designed especially for ViRitual 2020, and a faculty announcement that’s being kept tightly under wraps for the event.

For Queen’s engineers, the annual Ritual homecoming celebration is undoubtedly a highlight. It’s an opportunity for alumni to reconnect and meet up with current students to compare notes about the experience across the years and generations. Organizers knew this year, when planning a “homecoming at home” increasingly became a reality, that if our alumni can’t come to Clark Hall Pub, then they would bring Clark Hall Pub to them.

Martha van Berkel (Sci'00) with tricolour mask
Martha van Berkel (Sci'00)

Dean Deluzio will appear live from the institution—Canada’s first entirely student-run pub which was founded nearly 50 years ago in 1971—while van Berkel and Thomas will join from their homes. Organizers arranged for the two alum to host the online occasion with hopes they will maintain the casual atmosphere that all patrons have come to expect from any Ritual visit. And if this planning meeting is any indication, it was a wise decision.

Martha: People better show up and try to heckle us, just so we can all have a good laugh.

Toby: As long as the moderator can hit the Mute All button.

Martha: Unless there’s comments. Can we have comments?

(There will be comments).

Martha: This will be so much fun, Toby!

Toby: I’m going down. I’m going down.

Martha: So I suggest they all try to heckle us and—

Toby: No. You don’t want to try that with Science ’85. They will—

Martha: I know them! I know your crew. This is gonna be fun!

Toby: They’re a hairy, scary bunch.

ViRitual, the Faculty of Engineering alumni celebration, will take place Saturday, October 17 at 6:45pm. Register here. Visit the Queen’s Alumni website for a full events calendar.