Sam Schatmeyer knew he wanted to go to a school in the city. When he visited Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, he said, he fell in love with it and Baltimore and how they were interconnected.
"Now that I'm here, I want to see that interconnectivity I saw taken to new heights," said the first-year political science and Writing Seminars major. "Baltimore has given this campus so much, and we need to give back to it as much as we can."
Schatmeyer, president of the JHU Class of 2021, will address his peers at Tuesday night's First-Year Banquet, an event previously known as High Table. He'll talk about his desire for Johns Hopkins to become a hub of youth activism, in hopes of shaping the policy and politics that affect young people today.
Schatmeyer and the rest of the class council have reimagined the event. In past years, students were served at long, Oxford-style tables; this year, the First-Year Banquet—a tradition started in 2010—will feature round tables and family-style dining, part of an effort to foster more interactions among students, faculty, and administrators.
New elements have been added in a nod to Hopkins heritage. There will be a reading of a selection from the 1876 inaugural address delivered by Daniel Coit Gilman, JHU's first president; an a cappella performance of the JHU Ode; and a tribute to Frederick Scott, the first African-American undergraduate student at the university.
These changes were made "in an effort to more intentionally honor the rich history and heritage of Johns Hopkins University," said Brittany Claridge, assistant director of Orientation and First-Year Experience.
Added Schatmeyer: "We've changed the event to serve the Hopkins community and its values better."
Schatmeyer and his peers have also made an effort to spread the word about the First-Year Banquet more effectively. Nearly 750 people have registered to attend.
Despite the changes, the goal of the First-Year Banquet will remain the same, Claridge said.
"We hope that this one-of-a-kind Hopkins tradition provides opportunities for community, reflection, and celebration," Claridge said. "We hope first-year students find the unique opportunity to dine and interact with faculty and administrators in a way that the classroom does not always allow."
Schatmeyer said he is looking forward to the evening.
"I always love it when the Class of 2021 comes together as a unit, just like the Freshman Formal," he said. "The most important thing for us in the next four years will be the human connections we make with each other. As class president, I want to foster those relationships as much as possible."
The First-Year Banquet is sponsored by the Hopkins Parents Fund.