Taking a trip around the campus of many colleges and universities is not unlike taking a trip through time — and that's just the architecture. A number of U.S. institutions have been around for over a century, and with that time comes certain senses of tradition. It's not all pomp and circumstance, though. As you'll see below, some veer from simple superstition to the downright offbeat.
We were into dragons before "Game of Thrones" made it cool!
The Friday before Spring Break marks Cornell University's "Dragon Day," a 100-plus-year-old tradition that reads kind of like live-action roleplay gone too far. Basically, freshman architecture students make a giant dragon to parade across campus, past the engineering building and into the arts quad, while dressed in costumes ranging "from Roman gladiators to a hookah-smoking caterpillar to army men without pants."
Engineering students eventually got in on the fun by confronting the dragon with a giant phoenix (though the animal/object sometimes differs), and Theater, Film, and Dance students have recently joined in on the fun with a knight. Until 2009, tradition also saw the dragon burned at the end of its journey — but New York environmental regulations snuffed that.
Third, come from cornell university. Di universitas ini ada sebuah tradisi yg sering dikenal dgn nama dragon day :D pic.twitter.com/HYnAxOD19G— Lingua 4 (@Lingua4_) July 7, 2014
Studying for orgo is a no-go
The night before Columbia University's organic chemistry final (which also happens to be the first day of finals), the school's marching band enters Butler Library's reading room at midnight to distract studiers with jokes and a performance that ultimately winds its way across campus, past several residence halls. While its origins are unknown (or at least made to seem that way), the Columbia wiki states one possible reason the tradition began was an attempt to lower the chemistry exam's curve.
Silent night, screaming night
Speaking of finals, among Carleton College's many traditions is the "primal scream," which, at 10 p.m. on the night before finals, sees students lean out of their windows and collectively wail in anguish. But let's face it, egregious violations of silent study hours aren't that strange.
If hundreds of students filling the night air with cries of despair isn't your thing, one of the newer traditions at the Minnesota school is a "silent dance party" that takes place at 11 p.m. on one of the reading days before finals begin. Those in attendance download a playlist with an hour's worth of music and meet in the library, headphones firmly in place, to begin the party with a synchronous push of the "play" button before fanning out across campus. Let's be honest, though: At least a few people are probably a second off and awkwardly dancing off-beat.
Just looking for a little foot luck
Theodore Dwight Woolsey served as Yale University's president from 1846 to 1871 and is best officially remembered for his leadership in creating the Yale School of the Fine Arts. But his memory lives on for many via a tradition of giving a good-luck rub to the protruding foot of his giant bronze statue on the university's Old Campus. (Or at least via a tradition of convincing incoming freshmen that this is a time-honored campus tradition.)
Even so, if Yale's student bookstore isn't selling "Lucky Woolsey Foot" keychains yet, it's something to consider.
Many are the stories of campus organizations acting squirrely, but this one meets that definition in all the right ways. Founded in 2002, the Squirrel Club at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, is dedicated entirely to hand-feeding peanuts to the campus' bushy-tailed rodent inhabitants. There are no dues and everyone is welcome to join. In case you're wondering (and we know you are), squirrels aren't known to spread rabies — though they have been connected to at least one recent bubonic plague scare in California.
Because nothing says "well-educated" like reverting to your natural state...
OK, maybe streaking isn't quite a "strange" tradition, given that doing so on college campuses is so commonplace that there's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it. Students at UC-Davis, Tufts University, UNC-Chapel Hill, and countless other universities have been indecently exposed to these freaky fun runs.
The University of Virginia's streaking tradition, however, is a little more involved. As early as February 1974, students streaked across the university's 740-foot lawn, but there's a catch: Prior to graduating, it's customary that students don their birthday suit and dash down the stairs of the rotunda and across the grass to the statue of Homer, which they must then kiss before returning.
Georgetown doesn't just howl during basketball season
Parts of the Exorcist were filmed on the Washington campus of Georgetown University — and the novel was written by an alum, William Peter Blatty — so it's only natural that the horror classic would become part of campus tradition. Every Halloween, students watch the film in Gaston Hall, where we can only hope pea soup is served, before walking to the cemetery next to Healy Hall and howling at the moon.
Emory's eerie emblem
Speaking of spooky, Emory's official mascot may be the eagle, but a black-clad skeleton known as Lord Dooley reigns supreme at the private university, located in the aptly-named Druid Hills suburb of Atlanta. During Dooley's Week, an anonymous student dressed as the "Spirit of Emory" and "Lord of Misrule" himself wanders campus, accompanied by student "bodyguards" who also dress in black. During this time, he shows up in classrooms to let students out early. The week usually ends with Dooley's Ball, a concert event that has in recent years featured Kendrick Lamar and Chance The Rapper.
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