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13 Wild College Campus Traditions

13 Wild College Campus Traditions

Students look forward to these celebrations and events, whatever they may be, with excitement and gleeful anticipation. What more could you ask of a campus custom?

Elizabeth Hoyt

July 31, 2014

College campuses are rich with traditions, some even dating back hundreds of years. Because many of the traditions are so old, the origins of them are often unknown and have simply been passed down through generations of alumni.

That almost makes it a bit more fun, though. As time passes, rumors spread, legends begin and each tradition seems to take on a life of its own. Students look forward to these celebrations and events, whatever they may be, with excitement and gleeful anticipation. What more could you ask of a campus custom?

The following 13 college campus traditions truly add to the excitement of student life, which is exactly what a great college tradition should do:

1. Clark University: Spree Day

Spree Day is a random day of fun in the Spring semester chosen by university administrators where classes get cancelled and students get to celebrate with fun activities on the green.

It’s also tradition to keep Spree Day a secret from first-year students and on the day of, seniors wake up the freshman by running through the dorms while nosily banging pots and pans.

Though it is technically a secret day, rumor has it that it usually happens on the second Tuesday in April. The festivities include bands, entertainment, fun inflatables and more. Picture the field day you had as a kid, except for college students.

2. Cornell University: “Dragon Day”

As an annual kickoff to Spring Break, Dragon Day takes place in mid-March. The tradition, which dates back more than a century, includes a dragon parade across campus with a giant dragon created by first-year architecture students.

The students wear crazy costumes and parade the dragon to the Arts Quad, where their rival engineering students are waiting for them with a giant phoenix ready to duke it out with the dragon.

3. Columbia University: Orgo Night

What’s basically a pre-organic chemistry final study night sabotage, this event takes place twice a year. Ultimately in an attempt to annoy organic chemistry students, Columbia’s Marching Band bursts into the library and parades around campus playing at obnoxious volumes (it is a marching band, after all).

This is rumored to have started as an attempted to lower the curve on the organic chemistry exam, but the only thing to know for certain is that Orgo Night probably annoys the students actually attempting to study for the final.

4. Carleton College: Silent Dance Party

Carleton’s silent dance party takes place around eleven at night a day or two before finals. A somewhat new tradition to the college, all silent dance party participants download the same hour-long playlist of dance music created by the party organizer. They gather on the first floor of the library, headphones on, and press play on their devices at a designated time.

The dance party continues to listen to the playlist and students dance silently from the library to various locations throughout campus.

5. Emory University: Dooley’s Week

Dooley is Emory’s unofficial mascot and he’s a not-so-scary skeleton dressed in all black. Students on campus can recite his motto and even know all about the Dooley story.

During Dooley’s Week, students are appointed his official bodyguards and accompany him dressed in black – the student who dresses up as Dooley each year is anonymous. He’s actually pretty cool because when he walks into a class, students get released! Dooley’s week concludes with a celebratory ball where students dress in costume.

6. Georgetown University: Healy Howl

Not only is the author of “The Exorcist” a Georgetown alum, but part of the movie was filmed on campus. Each year on Halloween, students gather after dark to watch the film and then, at midnight, head to a cemetery near Healy Hall to let out their best howl at the moon. Legend has it that students in the past have howled loud enough to wake the surrounding dead!

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Pumpkin Drop

Each year on the Saturday before Halloween at midnight, crowds gather to watch as hundreds frozen pumpkins are tossed off the Green Building on MIT’s campus. Frozen pumpkins make much more of an explosion, in case you were wondering.

Apparently, MIT students like to throw things off buildings. In addition to the pumpkin drop, they have an annual piano drop and sodium drop, too.

They also have have an annual spontaneous Tuition Riot, Time Traveler Convention and Bad Ideas Festival – none of which is relevant to the pumpkin drop, but absolutely awesome nonetheless.

8. Murray State University: Shoe Tree

The origins of this tradition are unknown, but it became the custom at Murray State for college sweethearts to return to campus and nail mismatched shoes to the shoe tree – one from each of the partners.

Similar to a love lock, the shoes are often marked with names, anniversary dates and other memories. Sometimes, couples even continue the tradition once they start a family and return to nail their baby’s shoes to the tree, too!

9. Occidental College: The Birthday Dunk

What says, “Happy Birthday,” more than a huge splash? Literally.

At Occidental, you can be sure that you are going in the “The Fountain” on your birthday – whether you like it or not. Officially, it’s called the Lucille Gilman Memorial Fountain but it’s usually just referred to as “The Fountain” at Oxy.

You also have no idea when it’s coming, so that special element of surprise is an added bonus. Some people say they don’t like birthdays…ever wonder why that is?

10. University of Pennsylvania: Toast Toss

It’s tradition at the University of Pennsylvania for students to toss pieces of toast after the third quarter onto the field at home football games.

It became a tradition after alcohol became banned from the stadium in the 1970s. Fans were no longer able to “toast” (as they traditionally had) when they heard the line, “Here’s a toast to dear old Penn,” in the song “Drink a Highball.”

According to the university, a good season can range from 20,000 to 30,000 pieces of toast thrown per game. The university even has a special Zamboni that is able to pick up the toast!

11. Stanford University: Full Moon on the Quad

It traditionally began as a chivalrous welcome to campus for freshman where the senior gentlemen would form a line and kiss the incoming freshman ladies on the cheek and give them each a rose. It’s referred to as “Full Moon on the Quad” because they do so at midnight under the first full moon of the Fall Quarter.

Modern day has changed the tradition so that it’s now one big smooch-fest, sans traditional home morals and values. Want to catch something gross? Pucker up!

12. Virginia Tech: Cadet Versus Civilian Snowball Fight

If you ever find yourself on Virginia Tech’s Drillfield during the first snowfall of the year, be sure to take cover once the fire alarms sound – unless, of course, you want to join in on the action.

The snowballs fly and the crowds get crazy – some people even have shields and snowball launchers – they mean business!

Check out some footage of the 2014 VT Cadet Versus Civilian Snowball Fight.

13. Yale University: Good Luck Foot Rub

It started as a rumor…or did it? Nobody seems quite certain how it began, but rumor has it that rubbing the foot on a bronze statue of former Yale University president James Dwight Woolsey can pass on good luck, especially to high school students, hoping to be accepted to the university.


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    linnea2012

    4 months ago

    2 comments

    My alma mater, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, had a great (if officially frowned upon) tradition: Naked Soccer.

    Every spring, between the end of finals on a Wednesday and graduation on Sunday, a bunch of seniors would gather on the library lawn at night and kick around a soccer ball while in the buff. I wanted to play my senior year, but it was really cold and rainy that year, and the last thing I wanted was to be sick for graduation. :(

    Don't know if it still goes on, as the administration has tried sporadically to stamp it out, but everyone always thought it was cool. And it became famous worldwide in about 1997 or '98, when the police showed up and tried to arrest some of the players, it got caught on camera, and the tape ended up on CNN. LOL!!