Yale University is full of unique traditions. These practices range in scope and subject from shopping period freshman year to secret societies senior year. And, no matter how many times I use Hogwarts as an analogy for the residential college system, my school spirit is never diminished.
Tradition and pride have always been my favorite things about Yale as an institution. People have a tendency to imagine Texas high schools as they are portrayed in “Friday Night Lights” and “Varsity Blues,” and although my alma mater had its fair share of Tweeters, it lacked anywhere near Mojo-level ritual or pride.
Needless to say, when I was being recruited for college, I looked for a school with longstanding practices, enriching activities and an engaged student body.
Hello, Yale. Jackpot!
It’s obvious that Yale is an historic dynasty. But beyond the ever-present standard of academic excellence, students get to know a Yale full of much richer, and crazier, traditions than we ever expected.
Small rituals and events have become the backbone of the Yale student experience. Just listing things like Mory’s cups, naked parties, DKE Tang and the YSO Halloween show provide a bit of the rich variety of traditions inside our beloved institution.
Many of my favorite traditions here are somewhat exclusive to the Athletics Department and therefore go unnoticed by much of the student body. Some are serious, and some are not. But all of these traditions have a special place in my athletic heart.
My friends are now Yale captains. Among the most honored and meaningful establishments in Yale athletics is the seat of varsity captain. Unlike the large majority of other Division I schools, Yale has remained faithful to the election of a single captain per team. As a junior, the most exciting part of this tradition has been seeing my close friends elected as the captains for their respective teams. Watching someone transition from a wide-eyed freshman to the single, highest representation of their sport rocks.
2. Famous alumni
I know people who will grace the halls of ESPN in some way. Of course, there are famous alumni from almost every department on campus. Even if you didn’t like them, four of the last seven U.S. presidents were Yale grads. But have you ever taken a step back and realized that we are going to be those people one day? You could be the one to write the tell-all about Meaty McMeathead’s escapades as a frat boy in New Haven. Yes, state-school kids might have a one-up on us as far as having friends in the NFL, but I for one would rather claim Dick Ebersol ’69 as a classmate than Adam “Pacman” Jones.
3. The fight song
It might be the silliest thing I’ve ever heard, but, I love it! The fact that this gem was written in 1913 makes it even better. Has anyone ever considered that at any given football game (assuming that we score, of course) hundreds of our country’s smartest men and women are singing “bow-wow-wow” at the top of their lungs? Now, if that’s not school spirit, I don’t know what is.
4. Handsome Dan
Yale boasts the first mascot in college history, and Handsome Dan I is over 100 years old, stuffed and still on campus. To date, we have had 17 Handsome Dans, 16 of which are stuffed and chillin’ in the trophy room in Payne Whitney Gym. Creepy. But seriously, I love the fact that our mascot isn’t someone running around in a dog suit. Sorry Boola — my allegiance sticks with the little guy, even though the muscle definition in that suit is slowly changing my mind.
There you have it. Yale’s Athletics’ unique and unforgiving traditions have me bleeding blue with Yale pride. Go Bulldogs!
Tracy Timm is a junior in Pierson College.