The Michigan Daily/New Student Edition -Thursday, September 5, 1991 - Page 3
Whether it's puma statues or Hash Bash,
Michigan has a culture entirely its own
by Melissa Peerless
Daily Staff Reporter
Every year on April Fools' Day, a cloud hangs over
tJe Diag. It doesn't bring downpours or light showers.
It doesn't cast shadows of gloom over students or put
them in foul moods ... but it may cause a contact buzz.
It's not a meteorological condition. It's Hash Bash.
But all those students who feel oh-so-groovy after
smoking Mother nature have to make sure that they
don't wig out completely. Because if they are on the
.Diag, and completely out of control, there is imminent
danger that they could step on the 'M'. And we
W wouldn't want all those fun-loving students to fail
their next blue book exams, would we?
After side-stepping the 'M' as they frolic on the
.piag, these students go home and chill out while lis-
tening to the Dead. If they live on the Hill, their long,
strange trip takes them past the Natural Science Mu-
seum, where the pumas greet them with a hearty roar if
ithey are, in fact, virgins. If, however, they travel down
State Street on their journey, Shakey Jake will serenade
,them regardless of their sexual history.
Az orientees, and new members of the University
community, you are probably a bit confused. Just as
&strong academics, victorious football teams, and lib-
eral politics scream "University of Michigan," so do
Hash Bash, the Diag 'M', and the Nat Sci pumas.
On April 1, 1971, the National Organization for the
'OReform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) sponsored the
first annual Hash Bash on the Diag.
The first effort was a sterling success, and the tradi-
tion has continued. The Hash Bash celebration consists
of speeches, cheers, circulation of pro-legalization peti-
-tions and, to the dismay of many Hash Bashers, police.
Detective Douglas Barbour of the Ann Arbor police
;department said, "Regardless of political messages, it
,is against the law to smoke marijuana. We cannot ig-
.nore the existing laws to avoid disturbing the celebra-
Some University students anticipate this
"celebration" all year.
LSA senior Peter Ross said, "Hash Bash is basically
the biggest party of the year. It's probably one of the
The Diag M'
Upon graduating, the class of 1953 presented }the
University with a brass block 'M' to be placed inthe
center of the Diag. It was put in place that summer, and
supposedly beginning the next fall, it became the ob-
ject of student superstition. .
"If you step on the 'M', you will fail your ngxt
blue book exam," said Stefanie Polsky, an LSA sopho
more. "Of course, I don't believe in that kind of stupid
stuff, so I just step on it anyway."
However, there are many students who will go to
any cost to avoid stepping on the dreaded 'M'.
Michael McAlear, a recent graduate, said, "I'd never
step on it. One time, one of my friends was on crutches
and I was helping him carry his books. I actually
walked around the 'M', and he almost fell because he
was leaning on me. I've never failed a blue bodk,
According to some, stepping on the 'M' is an unfor-
givable sin, but others say that an antidote is to run
from the Diag at the stroke of midnight and kiss...
The Nat Sci Pumas
Located at either side of the entrance to the Natural
Science (Nat Sci) Museum are two ferocious-looking
stone pumas. In addition to being an anti-'M' force,
legend has it that if a virgin walks by, the pumas will
The pumas seem to have been silent as long as any-
one can remember.
LSA senior David Cohen said, "I lived in Markly
(a dorm on the Hill area of campus) for two years, sq'I
walked by the pumas millions of times at all different
times of day. I never even heard a peep."
A janitor at the Nat Sci museum said, "I hae
worked here for 17 years. I've not heard a roar, butI
have to wonder if it's because there are not any virgins
around, or if it's just because statues can't talk."
Nowhere does it say, "Don't Tread on Men," but that doesn't seem to matter to most University students,
who avoid stepping on this shrine during their daily jaunts through campus out of fear of failing their next blue
book exam. You would think that people who are slaves to such silly superstitions would not go to many
classes anyway in order to avoid walking under a ladder or having a black cat cross their path.
best things about U of M. My friends and I really look
forward to it."
However, NORML and other Hash Bash organizers
frown upon the image of Hash Bash as a party.
Head of the Ann Arbor NORML Chapter Thom
Harris said, "This year, we changed the name to the
Hemp Rally. We wanted it to be clear that we are mak-
ing a political statement, not just hanging out and par-
The implications of this change on the future of
Hash Bash are still unclear, but it is certain that Hash
Bash is here to stay.
Daily definitions give you the inside story
'by Jonathon Chait
and Tami Pollak
Daily Staff Reporters
s ARB: noun; slang for Nichol's Arbore-
tum. Voted the best place to go all the
Wway in last year's Daily Best of Poll,
(Laughin' and a-runnin', hey hey, skip-
,,pin' and a jumpin'...) this untapped cor-
nucopia of natural delights with en-
*trances off Geddes and by Markley
A.proves a mecca for lovers, joggers, and
"trippers alike, verb: arbing, adjective: ar-
BOOKS: noun; the one expenditure
;.your parents won't questions. No more
teachers, no more books, just TA's and
really expensive texts. While the So-
;'viet style lines outside the three book
tcartels may convince you that Ann Ar-
:bor has finally given in to commie
,pinko activists, never fear - once the
,-semester is over, you can try to sell
,back your books for just a fraction of
;:their original cost.
CUBE: noun; modern, balance-defying
:sculpture in front of the giant bidet in Re-
-gent's Plaza astride the Union. First the
area high school skate punks seized the
asphalt strip surrounding the estranged
geometric prop, then came the white
male hegemonic administrators from
the near-by Fleming Building toting
lunches of Wonderbread and ham. And
then came a band of strange, cult-like
relaxationists. This gaggle of semi-
meditative new agers engage bi-weekly
in dinnertime Karate Kid-meets-lamaze
exercises. Led by a bald, spiritually
garbed guru, it is unknown if passers-by
are free to join in the soul aerobics. verb:
cubing or gleaming the cube, adjective: cu-
DIAG: noun: hub of campus activity.
On a warm day in September you are
likely to find the Diag hackey-sackers,
frat-backers, establishment attackers,
and right wing lunatic Preacher Mike
(last name unknown) in the middle of
it all condemning a majority of the
world population to eternal damnation.
And walkers beware - the Diag along
with the nearby Fishbowl (lobby of
Mason hall facing Diag) form the So-
licitation Capitol of the World, with
charity buckets representing groups
ranging from the Ronald McDonald
House to the Hash Bash Hemp-for-Fu-
elers to the Leninist Stalinist Trotsky-
ists United to Preserve the Berlin
Wall. verb: to diag, adjective: diagnostic.
EIGHT O'CLOCKS: noun: earliest
classes offered; designed to weed-out the all-
nighters, anyone with roommates, and non-
masochists. Trust us: do not ever take
one of these, no matter what. Even if it
means having to change majors. Even if
it means not graduating and looking for
a job but not finding one because of the
recession and so your parents kick you
out of the house and you sleep in card-
board boxes and subsist on stale wel-
fare cheese, which is probably almost as
bad as dorm food - IT'S STILL BET-
TER THAN HAVING AN EIGHT
FAKE I.D.: noun; undergrads' key to
escaping the hide-from-the-R.A./ step-over-
frat-party-puke game. Not applicable at
Rick's American Cafe, rumored to have
a contract with the feds to smash the
International fake I.D. underground. Be
prepared for thorough interrogation,
not just name and address, but year of
high school graduation, zodiac sign, so-
cial security number, forty-yard-dash
time, S.A.T. score...
GREEK SYSTEM: noun; frater-
nity/sorority members; Derived from the
Ancient Greek practice of forming city-
states. The ancient city-states became
exclusive organizations, and each year
would admit a select few new
"pledges" who were forced to undergo
certain initiation rites, such as having to
sack Troy or consume massive amounts
of hemlock. (Pledge survival rates
climbed steadily after the invention of
beer.) These practices evolved into
modern Greek traditions of attending
barn dances and printing T-shirts to
commemorate every conceivable event,
including successful use of Q-tips.
HELL: noun; 1) where Preacher Mike
condemns all Diagnostics to go. (see DIAG)
2) University system of class registra-
tion, known affectionately as CRISP.
Be prepared to enter the sweltering
Angell Hall cellar office intending to
major in Poli. Sci., and emerge from the
assembly line concentrating in What-
See DICTIONARY, Page 5
Two other campus rituals involve the Greek systei.
On the corner of Washtenaw and Hill is a giant rock
which receives a new coat of paint several times a ws.
Alex Cherin, a member of FIJI fraternity and pn
LSA senior, said, "Our pledge classes have to paint ta
few times during their pledge term. We paint it sonle-
times just for fun, too. If you paint it before abouti6
a.m., it gets painted over before the morning so ydu
have to do it late, or early, whichever."
Jen Schnittger, a member of Chi Omega sorority,
said, "The Rock is about the size of a small car, but it's
almost all paint. If you put turpentine on it, the thiug
would probably be the size of a basketball."
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, located at the corner -f
Washtenaw and South University, hosts a Michiggn
tradition all its own. On the morning of the homecotV-
ing football game, EAE plays football against tIi
Delta Theta in a giant mudpit in the front yard of EA.
Kyle Rackewicz, an Engineering sophomore ad
member of XAE, said, "It's very fun to have mudbowvl.
It's especially awesome because we always beat PIii
Delts in the game. It makes XAE cool."
While no one story could ever describe all tie
unique aspects and idiosyncrasies of the Universiy,
hopefully you could understand the beginning of this
article if you read it again now. Maybe you even learned
so much that in the fall someone will come up to you
and, impressed with your knowledge of these rituals,
feel compelled to say, "You can't possibly be a first-
year student. I thought you were older."
CLASSIFIED ADS REALLY WORK
Give 'em a try
CE N T E R
ARE YOU WORKING HARD BUT
DO EXAMS FRIGHTEN YOU?
IS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE MORE
DIFFICULT THAN IT SHOULD BE?
DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE A
LEARNING DISORDER OR DISABILITY?
Our services include:
- In-patient care
" Out-patient care
- Family and group therapy
" A day hospital program jointly run
by the University of Michigan
Medical Center and Chelsea
" A comprehensive approach to the
:r r r -- 2_. ._ _ . -- 1., . .,.. t . T.. . ... - C IA'