Cover Story by
On April 6, a cloud will hang
over the Diag. It won't bring a
torrential downpour or even light
spring showers. It won't darken
the campus atmosphere or leave
the students in foul moods... but
it may cause a contact buzz. It
won't be a meteorological
condition; it will be the 20th
annual Hash Bash.
But all those students who
will be feeling 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 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 Diag, they will
probably feel like going home and
chilling out while listening to the
Dead. If they live on the Hill,
their long, strange trip will take
them past the Natural Science .
Museum, where the pumas will
greet them with a hearty roar if
any of them are, in fact, virgins.
If, however, they travel down
State Street on their journey,
Shakey Jake will sing to them,
regardless of their sexual history.
Just as victorious football
teams, strong academics, and
liberal politics scream
"University of Michigan," so do
Hash Bash, the Diag 'M', the Nat
Sci pumas and Shakey Jake.
Although you won't read about
these things in the Fiske Guide to
American Colleges, the University
wouldn't be the same without
these traditions and institutions.
While museums on other
campuses are deprived of pumas,
and students at other universities
would probably think Shakey
Jake is an ice cream confection,
every college has its quirks.
Extensive research indicates
that these traditions can be
divided into the following
categories: fun with nudity, big
blowout bashes, campus
landmarks and their supernatural
powers, rabid sports fans from
hell, loud tension relievers,
requirements," and miscellany.
Fun with nudity
A plethora of schools'
traditional acts are performed in
the nude. This may be surprising,
particularly considering the
weather at most of these schools.
However, college students are
young and resilient, and often
abuse their bodies by more than
just overexposing them to the
Perhaps the mother of all
college traditions is Princeton
University's Nude Olympics.
According to former
Olympian Lou Jacobson, "The
night of the first snowfall, all the
sophomore males - and recently
the females, too- shed their
clothes and run across campus at
Jacobson said that when he
took part, the Olympics had
about 200 participants, a number
which represented more than one-
fifth of the sophomore class.
When asked how his bare body
had withstood the frigid New
Jersey wintertime air, he
responded, "It was not as cold as I
thought it would be."
At American University in
Washington D.C., the president of
the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity
runs from the house to the library
in the nude before each pledge
"All the brothers follow him
in a pack," said sophomore Amy
When Thomas Jefferson built
the University of Virginia on a
large, grassy lawn, it probably
wasn't meant for streaking,
although the balmy Virginia
climate does lend itself nicely to
"You are supposed to streak
the lawn- run naked from the
rotunda building, at one end of
the lawn, down the lawn, around
a statue of Homer, and back,"
said frequent streaker, sophomore
And what goes better with
nudity than a good meal? At UC-
Berkeley, one co-op holds an
annual food orgy.
"It's basically people in
various states of undress feeding
each other and smearing food all
over each other," said Berkeley
student Tom Connely.
These days, students go to
school to party as much as to
learn. In fact, today's college
guidebooks evaluate not only
class size and student-professor
ratio but also the level of ease
with which students can get into
bars or buy alcohol.
And while regular house or
frat parties are always fun,
soirdes deeply rooted in tradition
provide the most rip-roarin' good
Keeping with its politically
liberal image, UC-Berkeley plays
host to a riot royale on a main
street near the end of each
"It starts out with political
overtones, but it usually just ends
up as total chaos," said Tom
At Columbia University,
students celebrate the spirit of the
Sixties with a "reality fest."
"It sort of could be called a
hippie fest, I guess. There are
bands and like psychedelic lights
and smoke and stuff," said
Columbia student Mark Bandak.
While Columbia and Berkeley
students welcome spring with
patchouli and Birkenstocks, at
Indiana University they use beer
and biking shorts.
"We have the Little 500
bicycle race every year. The
fraternities and sororities all
compete. The race is on Saturday,
but the whole weekend is a really
big party," said IU first-year
student Rachel Basofin.
Around St. Patrick's Day,
Cornell University students
celebrate Dragon Day, in which
first-year architecture students
build a huge green dragon out of
garbage or some other material.
Then they parade it around
campus and eventually burn it
when they reach the central quad.
engineers, try to destroy the
dragon before it gets to the quad.
There were increasing numbers of
injuries each year, so the
administration, in effect,
cancelled Dragon Day (this year)
for the first time in 90 years," said
Rob Neppell of Cornell.
In response, the architecture
students moved Dragon Day to a
"We woke to find the burning
dragon floating on about 75
empty beer kegs in a lake on
campus," said Neppell.
Michigan State University
holds an annual CedarFest.
"It's a big party weekend in
Cedar Village, this wooded area.
Everyone basically gets drunk
and breaks things," said MSU
junior Craig Appel.
The buildings, statues, and
other structures on colleges
campuses truly define the
characters. It is not surprising,
therefore, that many schools have
traditions and superstitions
surrounding these landmarks.
Like Michigan's Diag 'M', the
University of Virginia has a letter
which should not be tread upon.
exam, you might think.
Just as University of Michigan
students have long suspected
administrators of travelling
between buildings through an
underground tunnel system,
tunnelling activity takes place on
other campuses - on the part of
"A lot of people go tunneling
in the underground tunnels that
bore you graduate from Du
University," said Duke student
It seems no statue is safe from
being scrutinized by, speculated
about, or connected with the
superstitions of drunk or sober
On Columbia University's
campus is a large statue which
coincidentally resembles a tooth.
"It's not really supposed to be
a tooth. It's supposed to be
abstract modern art. Anyway,
people try to brush it when they
are drunk," said Bandak.
Also at Columbia, the Alma
Mater statue stands in the middle
of campus. If students can find
the owl hidden within the folds of
the stone woman's dress without
any assistance, they are
guaranteed four years of good
Academic luck is also
promised to University of North
Carolina students who drink
from a special well.
"The tradition of the Old Well
has been going on since the school'
was founded. If you drink from it
on the first day of classes each
semester, you're supposed to get
all A's," said UNC first-year
student Jon Sherman.
Silent Sam also resides at
"Supposedly, his gun goes off
if a virgin ever walks by,"
Sherman said. To this day, Sam
has remained true to his name.
Campus bells, on the other
hand, are rarelyssilent. Students at
many schools have devised
traditions centered around trying
to stop the ringing in their ears.
Princeton first-year students
engage in a sport called "clapper-
"They try to steal the clapper
out of this giant bell on campus.
Theoretically, then, classes can't
start because the bell can't ring.
Usually, they are successful.
Lately, however, the
administration has been cracking
down because you have to scale
this high tower building. I guess
it's pretty dangerous," said
former streaker Jacobson.
The campus of Penn State
University almost shut down for
a week this year, when their bell,
Old Main, wasn't working,
according to student Kit Gray.
fans from hell
No one can den vthe role of
At Columbia, the Alma
Mater statue stands in
the middle of campus.
If students can find the
owl hidden within the
folds of the stone
assistance, they are
guaranteed four years
of good luck.
Many schools also have
intramural sporting events
which are traditional in their
Stefanie Lubitz, a first-year
student at Vanderbilt University,
said, "You have to get dates for
the football games and everyone
gets all dressed in heels and formal
dresses, and the guys wear suits."
_ - .
' ' R
"We're known have the best
basketball atmosphere in the
country. Our fans are very loud
and very creative. Students sit
right at courtside. We
occasionally burn benches when
we win, especially against UNC."
In intramural athletic
traditions, Princeton holds its
annual "cane spree."
"It's a weekend-long athletic
competition between freshmen
and sophomores. The highlight is
the cane wrestle. While the
competitors are wrestling, a
firetruck douses them with
water. The winner gets to keep
this really old bamboo cane," said
Stress is an integral part of
campus life everywhere. What
would college be without exams,
term papers, or interpersonal
relationships? When it gets to be
too much for students at some
schools, they resort to traditional
activities - all of them
successful, most of them loud -
to help relieve daily stress.
The "primal scream," a
shout, is practiced at many
universities during exam week.
"At midnight, everyone opens
their windows and just screams.
Lots of people lose their voices" at
American U., said Hordes.
American students aren't the
only hoarse ones, however.
Stressed-out test-takers at MIT,
Princeton, and UCLA practice
the synchronized scream relaxing
technique as well.
students at Columbia have to deal
with "the band (playing) in the
library for a few hours the night
before the orgo final," Bandak
Aside from the obtaining the
proper number of credits and
maintaining a decent GPA, some
schools have traditional tasks
which must be completed by
students before graduation. Other
gradua ceremony itself.
After reading this next tidbit,
you may want to head to Boston
in early June.
"At Harvard's graduation, the
business school graduates throw
$20 bills into the air," said
At UC-Berkeley, one co-op
food orgy. 'It's basically pe
states of undress feeding e
smearing food all over eac
First-year students at
Columbia University, however,;
have been known to attend
football games in slightly
"When the freshmen get to
school, they are given beanies
with propellers on top. If they
wear them to the first football
game - which no one goes to
anyway- their tickets are free,"
"It looks really stupid, all these
people watching the game with
beanies on their heads," he added.
At Penn State, "Anything
football is tradition," Gray
All hell breaks loose on the
campus of Northwestern
University if its notoriously
defeat-prone football team ever
wins a game.
"When our team wins, if they
ever do, we tear down the
goalposts," said Northwestern
student Derrick Kidani.
At Princeton, the Big Three
Bonfire is a tradition.
"When Princeton beats
Harvard and Yale in football,
there is this big party on the
center green with a 30- to 40-foot
fire," said Jacobson.
On MSU football Saturdays,1
"the band marches past Sparty, a,
big statue of a Spartan in the
middle of campus," said Craig1
As the sporting year progresses
from the time of the pigskin to
the season of the roundball,
students at other universities
show their school spirit.
At UNC, students have been
known to camp out for days in
order to get good basketball
Beau Dure of Duke said,
At Princeton's graduation
each year, a Classical Studies
major delivers the "Salutitorian
speech" completely in Latin. "No
one understands the speech. The
graduates are given copies of the
text of the speech with markings
telling them when to laugh and
clap, so all the parents think they
know what's going on," said Lou
New Princeton graduates
emerge from college ready to take
the job market by storm,
synibolized by their walk
through the Fitz Randolph gate.
"Tradition says you can walk
in it, but not out of it; or you
won't graduate. After graduation,
with diplomas in hand, the whole
class walks out the gate
together," said Jacobson.
At Duke, there is a list of
"things you're supposed to do
before you graduate," said Beau
They include driving
backwards around a traffic circle
on campus and having sex in the
Some Universities with
specific enrollments have sets of
traditions more appropriate to
their student bodies.
At Wellesley, an all-women's
college in Massachussetts, each
first-year student is given a Big
Sister to help her adjust to her
"On Flower Sunday, the first
Sunday of the year, your Big Sis
comes and gives you flowers, and
you give her flowers, and then
Going with the flow...
College traditions, such as Columbia's beanies, Cornell's burning dragon,
and Harvard's flying money are depicted by artist Adam Levine.
"If a girl walks on this 'Z'
which is painted on the steps
leading to a classroom building, it
means she will get pregnant
before she graduates," said Dan
Moriarty. A bit more of a
problem than simply failing an
connect the buildings at UCLA,
You're not supposed to, but if
you get caught, all they do is
make you leave," said UCLA
student Holly Bauer.
Tunneling is also one of the
"five things you're supposed to do
4.lV 4* lvi %*fll4 C t~4ly Lm, lV A t
athletics in campus life. Some
people even choose which college
.they will attend based on the
won-loss record of the school's
varsity sports teams. Just as
athletes have superstitious rituals
that they follow before each
contest, college sports fans
practice certain traditions in
order to celebrate their teams'
victories and mourn their defeats.
At Princeton's graduation each year, a Classical Sti
the 'Salutitorian speech' completely in Latin.
'No one understands the speech. The graduates are
text of the speech with markings telling them when
so all the parents think they know what's going or
schools have "forbidden" rituals
in which students can only take
part after graduation. Still other
schools have traditions
surrounding the actual
there is a service," said Wellesley
first-year student Julie Schwab.
The seniors also participate in
hoop rolling, a game which, along
with women's place in society,
- - a -. .. - - - WdW
March 29, 1991