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Feb 09 2017
by Anna DiGiacomo

12 Weird College Traditions You Never Knew Existed

By Anna DiGiacomo - Feb 09 2017
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It’s a well-known fact that the stresses of college can be hard to bear and, at some point, every student snaps. From streaking through the library,  hosting sword fights or howling at the moon, students will try virtually anything to get that perfect 4.0 or just unwind. Whilst outsiders may find these bizarre traditions unexplainable and incomprehensible, it's all simply part of the college experience. Below are some of the strangest college traditions out there.

1. Foam Sword Friday — University of Texas

In celebration of the end of the semester, students at the University of Texas line up at the university's main crosswalk on the last day of class. Then, armed with foam swords, they wait for the lights to change and charge across the street. Naturally, costumes are strongly encouraged and foam swords provided for those without.


2. The Snow Arch — College of Wooster

There’s nothing worse than when classes aren't canceled due to snow. Thankfully, students at the College of Wooster have a creative solution to this age old problem. Weather allowing, these students fill the arch outside Kauke Hall with snow with the hopes of canceling class themselves. Then, to commemorate the event, the college’s bagpipers serenade the student body with fight songs and chants. We should be taking notes.


3. Dooley — Emory University

One of the quirkiest traditions on this list, a biology lab skeleton at Emory University adopts the first name and middle initial of the campus president and is charged with a sacred task. Currently called “Dooley,” it's said that the skeleton protects the official "Spirit of Emory." Dooley selects a few special students to don her mantel and keep her spirit alive on campus. The identity of these students is one of the best-kept campus secrets and rightfully so. They have the power to dismiss class and signify the beginning of a week-long celebration.


4. The Davis Library Streakers — UNC Chapel Hill

While streaking is a popular event on just about every college campus, arguably none put as much spirit into it as UNC students during finals week. Every year on the evening before the first exams, fearless students make their way to the eighth floor of the Davis Library together. As the crowds gather, the streakers remove their clothing and sprint down all eight floors of Davis to the second-floor atrium of the Undergraduate Library. There, both groups — naked and clothed — embrace arms and sing the college's alma mater “Hark the Sound” and the ever-popular “Go to Hell Duke.” Soon after, the crowd dissipates and everyone goes back to studying. Just another day at UNC.


5. Spree Day — Clark University

Students at Clark University eagerly await the news that Spree Day has commenced. Set on a different day every year, Spree Day marks the day that campus administrators spontaneously cancel classes and let fun reign across campus. Celebrations often include live bands and other forms of entertainment.


6. Orgo Night — Columbia University

At Columbia University, the Organic Chemistry test is always held on the first day of finals. Naturally, this is a prime opportunity for the student body to prank the chemistry students. On the night before the exam, the Columbia University Marching Band will occupy the main reading room of the Butler Library — precisely at midnight. There, they do everything in their power to distract the diligent students attempting to study. According to the campus website, one of the main points of the event is actually to lower the curve of the Orgo exam.


7. The Pumpkin Drop — John Muir College

Dropping splattable things off tall buildings is a universal obsession on college campuses, but no one does it better than the students at John Muir College. Every year on Halloween, these students drop a pumpkin off the 11th story of Tioga Hall. With the largest pumpkin weighing in at 398 pounds and resulting in a staggering 100-foot splat, it's a celebration worthy of the hype. Not to mention, the pumpkin is filled with candy for students to find amongst the pumpkin remains.


8. The Shoe Tree — Murray State University

Although no one knows exactly when the tradition started, the shoe tree is an integral part of student life at Murray State University. The tradition goes that if two students meet on campus, fall in love and get married, they will have good luck if they nail their shoes to the tree. Many couples get creative and add their anniversaries on the smelly sneakers, or return to nail a baby shoe to the tree.


9. The Healy Howl — Georgetown University

Possibly a little too obsessed with the Exorcist — part of which was filmed on the campus — Georgetown University students honor the horror movie with one of the scariest campus traditions. Every Halloween, the film is shown on Copley and timed so that it ends around midnight. Students will then proceed to the campus cemetery (the creepiest location on campus) and howl at the moon. Known as "The Healy Howl," the screams can be heard across campus and bystanders say the event is positively bloodcurdling.


10. The Sod Cemetery — Florida State University

A tradition nearly six-decades-old, the sod cemetery is a rich piece of football and college history for Florida State students. According to legend, the tradition started when Dean Coyle Moore issued the Seminoles a challenge, "Bring back some sod from between the hedges at Georgia.” After an underdog victory, team captain Gene McDowell did just that — pulling a tuft of grass from the field and presenting it to Moore at the next practice. After that, the tradition stuck. Whenever Florida State wins an underdog game, the team captain will return with a piece of sod from the field and plant it the Sod Cemetery, where the grass will later be marked with a plaque.


11. The Pterodactyl Hunt — Swarthmore University

Coordinated yearly by the Psi Phi Club, Swarthmore students don black or white trash bags — the color signifies which side the student is on — and protect the campus from oncoming “invaders.” Baddies can include anything from pterodactyls, orcs, trolls and every other sci-fi creature imaginable, while the good guys, colloquially known as Swatties, dress in armor and defeat the baddies with foam balls. The event started as a recuritment game for the club but has since become a beloved campus tradition.


12. The Primal Scream — Carleton College

Truly, the Carleton College website says it best.

"At 10:00 PM the night before finals start, Carleton students lean out their windows and let out a collective unearthly wail of anguish and despair. Then they go back to studying."

Think your college should have made our list? Tell us your crazy college tradition on Facebook or Twitter.

Lead Image Credit: Twitter | Chocopaijung

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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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