Come Back Together, Over and Again

Jose Vilson Jose

This extended weekend here at Syracuse U was the necessary motivation I needed to make everything I do that much better.

After all the panels, workshops, meetings, business cards (and business cards running out), and serious conversations, the responsibility and power to do as much as possible with the talents and connections I’ve developed has become almost impossible to ignore. Alumni from decades before me want to get to know me, much the way I wanted desperately to get to know them as I ascended the ranks of college life. Ever since I found out about CBT (Coming Back Together, alumni reunion), I knew I’d find the sages and legends that led movements before me, and ultimately, I’d be helping to cement their legacies as a collective.

This CBT became less about just soaking up experiences, though. It’s more about developing the human potential of these shared experiences. Not only are we now in positions to share these movements with others and just build casual relationships; it’s about building the necessary bridges across generations of experiences, and highlighting that which binds us to the university. We founded the organizations, fought against the same injustices, used the same dorms, and met in the same areas. We danced to different music, had different relationships with administration, and felt different vibes about the global economy and what we’d do after we graduated.

Somewhere in that matrix of contrasts and commonalities, we alum found a common ground, the same ground that brings us together. We’re no longer just participants, but investors. We’re not asking for a minimum slice of the orange; we want 1/2. We still see a struggle to overcome, but we acknowledge the role we alum play for students who have shared our experiences, and how just a few simple words from some of our Syracuse University descendants empowered us to amplifies our voices in institutions that were once not friendly to us and our needs.

Often, people see the students as the conduits for change, the bearers of the torch, and when they move on from that station, they no longer see themselves as accountable to the kinds of change the institution needs. CBT changes that dynamic for so many of us. Now, and for the last 25 years, Syracuse U has those experiential and financial backing from underrepresented groups. And now, I’ve become a big part of the movement for more of this partnership to reflect the alum.

More than anything, though, this weekend left me exhausted. Off to sleep, y’all.

jose, who laughs at people who sing “Swagger Like Us” and really have none …