College Traditions: More than Just Academics

      As a new semester starts, students begin settling into their routines. While at Eastern, the beginning of the semester is fairly tame, at other schools around the country, strange things are happening. Students peeing on statues of prominent figures, nailing their shoes to trees, and hunting for Pterodactyls. School spirit is found in different ways. As an outsider looking in, there is no way to explain this madness, but at a lot of universities,  traditions are a large part of forming a community of friendship that lasts a lifetime.

1) Shoe Tree at Murray State University (Murray, Ky.)

      Just outside the library at Murray State University, there sits a strange looking tree with over 50 pairs of mismatched shoes nailed to it. No one knows when the tradition began, but couples have been nailing their shoes to the tree for decades. Legend goes that if two students at Murray State fall in love and marry, they will have a  happy marriage if they nail their partner’s shoe to the tree. This tradition has continued even after the original tree burned down after being struck by lightning, and is now an integral part of the college’s history.

2)  John Harvard Statue at Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.)

SONY DSC Harvard Student Blog/Waltonian

      The students at Harvard seem to have quite a taste for nudity in their campus traditions. One tradition in particular is to urinate on the John Harvard Statue (?)at night. At first glance, this seems like a repulsive, drunken tradition (and it is,) but there is more to it than meets the eye. Students take part in the tradition of peeing on the statue as an attempt to prove to themselves that, though they may go to Harvard, they reject the anxiety that the “Harvard” status represents.

3)  Serenades at Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.)

       Each year, the freshman class at Vassar College serenades the senior class with class songs and original compositions. Of course, not all of the original pieces are filled with kind and loving words. As payback for the insulting songs, the senior class splatters the freshman class with an assortment of messy food items. Recently, the Vassar instituted a “water only” rule, so now it has turned into a massive water fight. Sounds like fun, right?

4) Pterodactyl Hunt at Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pa.)

      In the beginning of October, students at Swarthmore College begin buying foam swords, garbage bags, and anything else that might be needed to dress as either a Pterodactyl or a Pterodactyl hunter. The Pterodactyl hunt began as an inside joke on campus, but quickly spread to be an event that everyone attends. Students act as either hunters or monsters, and dress in different colored garbage bags to differentiate themselves. While the event is always a success, most students are more interested in running around and hitting other people with foam weapons

5) The Primal Scream at Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.)

     Finals week is stressful for everyone, so to help relieve some of the stress, Carleton College students started the Primal Scream tradition. At exactly 10 p.m. the night before finals week, students ditch their studies to shriek and wail. This is the students’ way to help blow off steam before going back to their studying as if nothing had happened.

6) The Painting of the Rock at Eastern University (St. Davids, Pa.)

      A couple of times a year, a massive rock by the pond is painted with  special messages at Eastern University. In the beginning of the year, the rock welcomes new students; other times, it will have a bible verse on it. The rock is used as a way to connect students to the community.

     College campus traditions are all over the board. At some schools, students howl to the moon to help relieve stress. At other schools, they hunt for monsters. Or, like here at Eastern, we paint a rock to send messages to the community. Although some of these campus traditions are strange, they all have one thing in common: they create a community of friends. Without traditions, we would be lost. Traditions bring us all together and make us a family.

      Sources: Murray State,, Miscelannynews, Swarthmore, Careton CollegeWaltonian | The Waltonian

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