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Time-honored traditions? Not likely. These college rituals are a bit out there.

List produced by the Facts

  • Sewanee: The University of the South (Sewanee, TN): Sewanee's giant, picturesque campus (known as the Domain) is said to be home to angels, which you can borrow as your own guardian angel whenever you leave. You simply need to tap the roof of your car as you drive through the gates to "pick up" your angel, and you tap it again when you return to "release" it.
  • Barnard College (New York, NY): During finals week, the president of the college, deans, and other members of the administration serve a Midnight Breakfast to students.
  • Yes, connect me! Brandeis University (Waltham, MA): At the annual Liquid Latex, students use their bodies as a canvas, covering them with latex paint (and not much else).
  • Yes, connect me! Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA): During the first week of their second semester, first-year students serenade the president of the university. During both their first and last weeks on campus, students gather in a circle in the quad overlooking the hills at sunset for a class candle-lighting ceremony. The Chrysalis Ball is held for students and faculty.
  • Carleton College (Northfield, MN): At 10 p.m. on the night before finals begin, students stick their heads out the window and give a heartfelt (or desperate) Primal Scream.
  • Clark University (Worcester, MA): On Spree Day, classes are spontaneously cancelled, and the entire student body heads to the Green for a fun day including bands and activities.
  • Colgate University (Hamilton, NY): Incoming freshmen are led up a tall hill on campus in a processional by upperclassmen. As outgoing seniors, they walk down the hill.
  • Yes, connect me! Columbia University (New York, NY): During the Columbia University marching band's Orgo Night, a popular campus tradition, the band disrupts studies in Butler Library to relieve student stress the night before the organic chemistry final.
  • Yes, connect me! Cornell University (Ithaca, NY): Dragon Day originated as a rivalry between the architecture and engineering departments. Every St. Patrick's Day, first-year architectural students design and build a several-story-high dragon (originally a snake with St. Patrick chasing after it) and parade it through campus. Costumed students guide the beast across the campus and then set it afire in the middle of the Arts Quad. Sibley Hall at the north end of the Arts Quad is home to the eerie framework remains of past dragon heads. Each spring on Hill Day, students celebrate the return of warm weather with a rock concert and picnic on the Libe Slope. Legend has it that any couple that kisses in the middle of the suspension bridge will end up getting married.
  • Duke University (Durham, NC): To get free tickets to Duke basketball games, students camp out in tents complete with on-line access so they can continue studying and stay connected. Some unofficial graduation "requirements" decree that before they graduate, students must drive backwards around the traffic circle and climb Baldwin Auditorium. Several of Duke's gothic-style buildings feature gargoyles that are difficult to find. The Duke Chapel is haunted one night every year.
  • Emory University (Atlanta, GA): The unofficial mascot of the university is Dooley, a skeleton figure dressed in black. In the spring during Dooley's Week, he wanders the campus, showing up in classrooms to let students out of class.
  • Georgetown University (Washington, DC): Ever since the film "The Exorcist" was shot in part on the campus, Halloween has been a major holiday at Georgetown. The film is shown after dark on Halloween, either outside on Copley lawn or in Gaston Hall. The film ends around midnight, the hour at which Georgetown students gather in the cemetery on campus for the "Healy Howl." In the cemetery at midnight, in the shadow of Healy Hall, Georgetown students literally howl at the moon. A statue of John Carroll, the founder of Georgetown, is located at the entrance of the campus. Before they graduate, students try to have their photo taken in Carroll's lap. This requires stealthy evasion of the Department of Public Safety patrols trying to end a tradition they believe to be harmful to the statue's longevity. The usual game plan is to leap into John Carroll's lap, have a friend snap the picture, and make a run for it.
  • Hollins University (Roanoke, VA): Hollins students climb Tinker Mountain together.
  • Kenyon College (Gambier, OH): Singing is a tradition at Kenyon. Freshmen sing in front of the school during matriculation week, and seniors sing in front of their families at graduation.
  • Yes, connect me! Menlo College (Atherton, CA): The college holds an annual spring luau. Faculty members serve students midnight munchies during finals week.
  • Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA): On their birthdays, students are ceremoniously tossed into the college's Gilman Fountain by their fellow students.
  • Pomona College (Claremont, CA): For Ski-Beach, a busload of students don parkas and gloves to bomb the slopes of Mountain High, a nearby resort. In the afternoon, they reboard the bus and head to Newport Beach (or another local beach) for a cookout. Somewhere between mountain and beach, ski paraphernalia is abandoned for swimsuits and boogie boards. Death by Chocolate, a pre-finals frenzy of chocolate consumption, begins with a line of eager students outside Edmunds Ballroom, where all sorts of chocolate goodies await. At orientation, first-year students march through the gates past the inscription "Let only the eager, thoughtful, and reverent enter here." Upon graduation, the senior class streams out of the gates past an inscription that reads "They only are loyal to this College who upon departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind."
  • Yes, connect me! Princeton University (Princeton, NJ): At the commencement ceremony, new graduates pass through the Fitzrandolph Gates, the main entrance to the campus from Nassau Street, and enter the "real world." According to fairly recent tradition, undergraduates who use the gates to exit the campus before their own commencement put their chances of graduating at risk.
  • Yes, connect me! Reed College (Portland, OR): Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day is always the Seventh Annual because it is the seventh element on the periodic table. To celebrate nitrogen, a vastly under-appreciated element, students enjoy free food, live entertainment, and the recitation of haikus on the porch of the student union. The twice-annual Canyon Day involves planting native trees and shrubs in Reed Canyon. Renn Fayre (originally a one-day Renaissance Fayre) has evolved into an annual weeklong celebration with music, refreshments, fireworks, arts, and sports. The week kicks off with the thesis parade as seniors march from the library steps to the registrar's office. "Scroungers" sit at the end of the cafeteria and are given leftover food by other students. Considered "environmentally friendly," one Scrounger noted, "We have very little cafeteria waste."
  • Yes, connect me! Regis University (Denver, CO): A 24-hour quiet policy is in force in the residence halls during finals week. On the Tuesday night of finals, after four days of silence and studying, the "all hall scream" erupts with ten minutes of students yelling, screaming, laughing, and racing through the halls. At 10:00 p.m., finals breakfast takes place, during which the students are served by the faculty. Class representatives design t-shirts during the summer months in preparation for the first snow. As soon as the flakes fall, class representatives hit the halls selling FIRST SNOW t-shirts and giving students cups of hot chocolate.
  • Rollins College (Winter Park, FL): Every spring, the school president picks a day for the community to enjoy a holiday. Fox Day is announced by the placement of the Rollins fox, a large stone fox statue, out on the main lawn on the campus. The guessing games that take place about which day will be selected are almost as much a part of the tradition as the day itself.
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA): In the 1950s, senior men and freshman women would line up and exchange a kiss with the person opposite them, and the boys would give the girls a rose. The tradition has evolved into Full Moon on the Quad, which includes all classes and designates a corner for Queer Moon on the Quad. Booths distribute mouthwash and water, and there are bands playing to accompany the festivities. The Wacky Walk is an integral part of the procession at graduation ceremonies. Undergraduates walk onto the football field throwing rugby balls, cooking breakfast on a small grill, proposing marriage, and engaging in an array of unusual activities.
  • Tufts University (Medford, MA): Naked Quad Run or Nighttime Quad Reception occurs on the last Friday of finals in December.
  • University of California — Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA): Midnight Yell is held during finals week. The Janss Steps, an 87-step expanse of stairs, served as the original entrance to the university. The land on which the university was built had been owned by the Janss brothers, and it was proposed that a structure be built in their honor. Edwin, the practical younger brother, lobbied for a parking garage, but Hans, the older brother, insisted on something more aesthetic: sloping lawns with majestic steps leading up to the main quad. Suspecting that after he died, his little brother would simply replace the steps with parking, Hans had himself buried under the sixth step. Tradition holds that students must never set foot on the sixth step from the bottom or they will spend an extra quarter (or longer) on campus. Fraternities sometimes hold seances on the step, easily identified by the drippings from their candles. A large statue of the UCLA mascot, the Bruin, stands near the student union. Students rub his right hind paw (the "Bruin Paw") for luck before exams. Before becoming a rock legend, Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, briefly attended UCLA. Tour guides point out a locker in the math building purported to be Morrison's that is still plastered with brightly colored stickers and remains locked.
  • Yes, connect me! University of California, Davis (Davis, CA): Once a year, the Davis track team and friends streak across the campus in the late night Naked Mile.
  • University of Idaho (Moscow, ID): In the 1920s, the university president required that students, staff, and faculty say hello to one another when meeting on campus. Every day, he followed his own rule and greeted everyone he passed with a "Hello" as he made his way up the walk across the Administration Lawn. This longstanding tradition continues on Hello Walk, which gives visitors a very favorable impression of the friendliness of the campus. The Found Money Fund of Idaho (FMFI) began in 1981 with three pennies and evolved into a repository for any money that Idaho faculty, students, alumni, and supporters found and were willing to donate to the university. Money can be dropped off or mailed in. The money is invested in the University of Idaho Trust, and interest from the endowment will become available for use in 2089, the year of the university's bicentennial. As of 2008, the fund was worth more than $200,000 and is expected to be worth several billion dollars by 2089.
  • University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Lafayette, LA): The Walk of Honor comprises bricks inscribed with the name and graduation year of all alumni.
  • University of Oregon (Eugene, OR): Before football games, the team is led into Autzen Stadium by a duck mascot riding on the back of a Harley Davidson.
  • University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA): A spontaneous 'riot'--the Rowbottom--erupts when someone yells "Rowbottom" out the window. The tradition, supposedly named after a student named Rowbottom, appears to have petered out.
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA): According to tradition, before they graduate, students must run naked from the Rotunda down the Lawn to the statue of Homer (which must be kissed on the buttocks) and then back to the Rotunda before retrieving their clothes.
  • Yes, connect me! Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO): Walk In Lay Down, usually referred to as WILD, is a concert in the Brookings Quad every fall and spring. The tradition gets its name from the fact that students dragged sofas and couches into the quad so they could listen in comfort. The concert usually features local bands as well as one or two nationally known groups or artists. The "Say Hi" tradition requires all students to say hello to students and faculty that they meet on campus.
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Source: Leads provided by Susan Solomon, Kehillah Jewish High School, Palo Alto, California.

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