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Weirdest College Traditions

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  • Auburn University (Auburn, AL): When the Auburn Tigers football team wins a game, fans celebrate by toilet-papering, or "rolling," two oak trees in front of the local Toomer's Drugs (a University-approved tradition!).
  • 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.
  • Baylor University (Waco, TX): An over 60-year-old tradition, Baylor University students celebrate "Dr Pepper Hour," with free soda every Tuesday afternoon from 3:00 to 4:00 pm. It started as "Coke Hour," but the school switched beverages when locally made Dr Pepper became the school's official soft drink in 1997.
  • Brandeis University (Waltham, MA): At the annual Liquid Latex "show," Brandeis students use their bodies as a canvas, covering them with latex paint (and not much else).
  • 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 10:00 pm on the night before finals begin, Carleton students stick their heads out of their dorm windows and give a heartfelt (or desperate) Primal Scream.
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA): Students at Carnegie Mellon have made a storied tradition out of painting "The Fence" on campus. They can paint practically whatever message they want, but it must be done by hand, with a brush, and between midnight and sunrise.
  • 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.
  • Cornell University (Ithaca, NY): Dragon Day originated as a rivalry between the architecture and engineering departments at Cornell. Originally on St. Patrick's Day, first-year architectural students design and build a several-story-high dragon (the first was 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 on fire 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...
  • Duke University (Durham, NC): Some unofficial Duke graduation "requirements" decree that before they graduate, students must drive backwards around the traffic circle and climb Baldwin Auditorium.
  • Elon University (Elon, NC): Furman Moseley, an Elon alum, inspired the school's tradition of giving each graduate a sapling after he gave the graduating class of 1991 a redwood sapling, commemorating their future growth...as well as his career in timber.
  • Emory University (Atlanta, GA): The unofficial Emory mascot 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.
  • 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.
  • Menlo College (Atherton, CA): Menlo College holds an annual spring luau. Faculty members also serve students midnight munchies during finals week.
  • Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA): On their birthdays, students are ceremoniously tossed into the Occidental's Gilman Fountain by their fellow students.
  • Pomona College (Claremont, CA): For Ski-Beach, a busload of Pomona 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.
  • 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.
  • Reed College (Portland, OR): At Reed College, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Source: Research provided by Susan Solomon, Kehillah Jewish High School

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About This List

Time-honored traditions? Not likely. They're weird. But as a team full of weirdos, we say "weird" with the utmost affection.

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