The University welcomed the Middletown community onto campus for the second annual Middletown Day on Saturday, Oct. 18. This year, Middletown Day was planned to coincide with the University’s Homecoming football game.
The event included carnival activities and free entrance to the football game. Additionally, the Middletown High School Marching Band performed during halftime.
The Planning Committee was composed of various University faculty from Human Resources, Alumni and Parent Relations, and the Center for Community Partnerships.
Assistant Football Coach Jeff McDonald, who represented the athletics department on the committee, spoke to the role of local students in building the relationship with Middletown. The University football team currently has three local players: linebacker and wildcat quarterback Devon Carrillo ’17, wide receiver Kristopher Luster ’17, and linebacker Alec Corazzini ’16.
“While not part of the committee, I spoke with all three of them informally to get their thoughts on how to best engage the community and asked for their help in promoting the event,” McDonald wrote in an email to The Argus.
McDonald further emphasized the impact that local students, particularly athletes, can have on relations with the Middletown community.
“There is no doubt in my mind that having local student-athletes on our roster definitely makes the community feel more connected to our team and the University,” McDonald wrote. “Since Devon, Alec and Kris have been with us, there have been a number of times that people have stopped me to ask specifically how they are doing. Recruiting wise, Coach Whalen has made it a big priority for us to not get so caught up recruiting nationally that we overlook qualified student-athletes here in Middletown and Connecticut as a whole.”
Middletown Day was designed to bring Middletown community members onto the University campus and to make the campus feel more open. In an email to The Argus, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chair of the Middletown Day Planning Committee John Meerts explained the role of a community day in achieving this goal.
“Of course Wesleyan is part of the Middletown community and we do a lot in the community already through volunteer work, service learning and the like,” Meerts wrote. “But we don’t really have much of an opportunity to interact with the citizens of Middletown on the campus proper. I think that having citizens feel welcome on campus, not just for Middletown day but in general, even for a stroll or attending events, would help bridge and improve town gown relations.”
University President Michael Roth agreed and elaborated on the intended effects of Middletown Day.
“I am hopeful that Middletown Day will be a symbol of the openness of the campus to members of the Middletown community and that we warmly welcome folks from town on our campus as part of the process of more reciprocity between the campus and the city,” Roth said. “Middletown is a great place to go to school, it’s a great place to live, and I think as we find more ways to cooperate and share resources, it’s good for everybody.”
Meerts explained why the event was held during Homecoming, as opposed to being held along with the first home football game as it was last year.
“We thought that having a campus with lots of people in attendance would provide for a nice atmosphere,” Meerts wrote in an email to The Argus. “Ideally we would have had the event much like last year, with a combined family/homecoming weekend and with the students being here as well.”
According to Roth, fall break and Homecoming coincided this year due to calendar restrictions. By tradition, Homecoming football games are against either Amherst College or Williams College, and fall break is restricted by a variety of holidays.
Roth stated that fall break and Homecoming will coincide again in 2016, adding that the University is looking for a solution to avoid this conflict.
“We could play Homecoming against Hamilton, but a lot of alumni and perhaps some students also would find that kind of [disappointing],” Roth said. “Not that Hamilton’s bad, it’s that we have this tradition of playing the Little Three.”