Staff Editorial: It’s time to revive (or recreate) WashU campus traditions
If you were to ask Washington University students what campus-wide traditions exist here, you’d find slim pickings. Some might describe traditions they personally have not experienced but have heard of from upperclassmen or alumni, like Art Prom, or traditions they’ve seen in altered forms, such as WILD, Moonlight Breakfast, or Convocation.
The truth is, COVID-19 has killed many of the traditions that made WashU stand apart, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revive them or make some new ones of our own. Be it individual students deciding to start something wacky — like Mizzou students running across the quad as first years for ice cream and then again at the end of senior year for a free beer — or leaders in student government and Campus Life coming up with more campus activities, WashU needs more campus traditions.
As our peers in Positive Psychology would tell us, it is psychologically important to have events to anticipate and to look back upon fondly. And while WILD is nice, a tradition doesn’t necessitate pouring tens of thousands of dollars into a full-blown performance. We’re encouraging students to start leaning into their zany ideas and create a campus tradition — consider it your chance to be remembered after you graduate. We’re also urging campus leaders to recognize their role in creating accessible, low-cost experiences for students who want to have exciting things to look forward to during their time as students and memorable experiences to look back on as alumni. To get you started, here’s a sample of activities our Editorial Board would love to see on campus next year. Hope to see you all rolling down Art Hill on the second Tuesday of April!
Bring back The Rat
Nope, not the furry rodents that you might mistake for a squirrel scurrying through the sewer grate on your walk to class. The Rat was a popular bar and grill on campus that Student Life reported often had a nightly attendance of over 800. It hosted themed parties, televised sporting events, and, perhaps most essentially, contained a campus bar. It created a social space for students to imbibe without the extra cost of transportation to Tower Grove to go to Tikkis or a long metro ride to get to Molly’s in Soulard.
The DUC has picked up a bit of the slack, hosting sports watch parties and other social events in the Fun Room, but it hasn’t taken on the same attendance numbers, and it doesn’t have the food and beverage options that the Rat was reported to have in its prime.
WashU needs more accessible social drinking spaces outside of Fraternity Row. The Rat was open for 26 glorious years; it’s time to bring it back.
— Clara Richards, Managing Sports Editor
You get a prom, you get a prom — everyone gets a prom
Throughout my four years, I’ve heard whispers of a certain forgotten tradition: Art Prom. Art Prom was an enviable affair — reportedly, $10 for transportation to the venue, an open bar, a DJ, and an opportunity to step out in your most unhinged 80s-inspired ensemble. I’ve even heard rumors of actually good music playing at Art Prom. (As a girl whose first (and last) WashU frat party unironically played “Stacey’s Mom has Got it Going On,” this report only rubs salt in the wound.)
Now, as an Arts & Sciences student, I have no personal stake in whether or not Art Prom gets revived (sorry, Sam Fox folks). As an enjoyer of any opportunity to be overdressed, though, I’ll take this time to advocate for more formals. Why not throw an Arts & Sciences prom? A B-school bash? We could even get major-specific; I just know English majors would get down.
— Jamila Dawkins, Managing Forum Editor
WashU has many positive traits, but school spirit is not always one of them. The varsity men’s basketball playoff games last year were the closest I’ve felt to real bear pride, and I’ve been chasing that high ever since. I think that a tradition of a grade-based color war or field day (think sack races, water balloons, pie-eating…) might put a little pep in the WashU scholar champions’ steps. I can see it now: each class has its own color t-shirt, Rob Wild is playing corn hole against Chancellor Martin, and the senior class is beating the freshmen at tug-O-war. C’mon Social Programming Board. Please?
— Via Poolos, Managing Scene Editor
The Heat of Battle
As someone who loved summer camp and has worked at some, as I’ve gotten older, one game is a constant memory of adolescence: capture the flag. The classic game where two teams try to steal a flag from the opponent’s side allows everyone to participate and can bring out the competitive spirit in just about anyone. Thus, I propose an all-campus game that uses the entirety of the Danforth Campus. Teams would be split by grade, academic division, or some other natural division, and each team would defend one part of campus. The winning team would get some absurdly large trophy that would then be up for grabs at the same time next year. For anyone who has seen “Community,” think of the paintball episodes minus the property destruction and paint. So, I plead for a small return to the joy of childhood competition.
— Jared Adelman, Senior Multimedia Editor
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream on Mudd Field
Students releasing a shared, primal scream is a tradition present on multiple college campuses and also has been done at WashU in the past. It really is that simple –– students meet up at a predetermined time, let out a collective guttural screech, and depart. The Scream typically occurs around finals, when frustration surrounding last-minute cramming for exams can only fully be expressed in one almost therapeutic way –– screaming. Plus, students are likely screaming (though maybe in their heads, to not wake a roommate) around finals season anyways, so why not make it a shared experience and allow people to feel less alone? Plus, it brings the community together!
— Reilly Brady, Managing Forum Editor