Traditionally Trinity: traditions past and present

Trinity University has a rich, storied history, and with that history comes years of unique traditions. Even before the university situated itself on its current campus, students created and participated in several activities that became staples of their time at Trinity. Although the old traditions may not be around anymore, Trinity has embraced new traditions over the years, enriching the time students spend on campus.

Here are some old, discontinued traditions (quotations are taken from R. Douglas Brackenridge’s book “Trinity University: A Tale of Three Cities”):

1) Slime Caps

Year tradition began: 1904

A Trinity victory in the annual football series against Austin College “freed the first-year class from wearing slime caps for the remainder of the semester.”

2)Random Matchups

Year tradition began: 1912

To mark the beginning of the new school year, the Trinity faculty hosted a student reception in the administration building. After the formal reception ended, “male and female students were matched up at random. Once they located their partners and the music began, they marched to Drane Hall, the residence hall for women.”

3) Trinity YMCA Stag Roundup

Year tradition began: Unknown

Held every fall, this event “attracted large numbers of new and returning male students. Gathering on the athletic field to play games, they heard student leaders and civic officials encourage membership in the YMCA and participation in other extracurricular activities. In closing ceremonies, students circled a large bonfire and each received a freshly baked pie.”

4) Swing-In and Swing-Out

Year tradition began: 1924

Sponsored by the YMCA, this event welcomed first-year women to campus and partnered them with big sisters who became their unofficial mentors. “The event commenced with a picnic supper on the Drane Hall lawn, followed by a lantern-lighted procession to the gymnasium consisting of big and little sisters and female faculty. There the little sisters were swung in to the club after a brief ritual conducted by the YMCA officers and faculty sponsors. At the close of each year, Trinity women held Swing-Out, which consisted of a dinner and candle-lighting ceremony to honor graduating seniors.”

5) George Washington Birthday Celebration

Year tradition began: Unknown

Trinity senior women observed Washington’s birthday each February by decorating Drane Hall, distributing napkins featuring Washington’s life and character, making speeches and playing games.

6) Founders’ Day

Year tradition began: 1938

Observed on the Saturday closest to April 20, the date Tehuacana was chosen as the campus of Trinity University, “faculty dismissed classes at 9:30 in the morning so that students could attend a program of music and skits led by various campus organizations. The afternoon featured intramural sports events between classes competing for honors. In the evening, the university community gathered in Getzendaner Park for a picnic supper honoring ex-students and alumni.”

7) Halloween Spook Celebration

Year tradition began: Unknown

Because contact between male and female students was limited, Trinity women devised a way to get around the strict rules by dressing up as ghosts at Halloween and attending a party with male students.

8) Sing Song

Year tradition began: 1958

The precursor to the Best of Trinity Spotlight, the first Sing Song was sponsored by the Chi Beta Epsilon sorority in Ruth Taylor Concert Hall. Other sororities and fraternities, such as the Spurs and the Triniteers, competed against one another.

Each organization presented “three songs within a fifteen-minute time period, and the Spurs won the first-place trophy with a Christmas theme.”

9) Bermuda Day

Year tradition began: 1961

Instituted back when Trinity had some sort of dress code, Bermuda Day “featured athletic events, an all-campus picnic, and an opportunity for everyone to wear shorts on the upper campus.”

10) Sperm Squad

Year tradition began: 1976

 Making its first appearance at homecoming festivities, the goal of the Sperm Squad was “to promote school spirit at football games.” The group stemmed from the Woody Allen movie “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask.” “Students dressed in all white support hose, shorts, T-shirt, hat, and towel. They selected one player on the football team to be their favorite and cheered vociferously anytime he was involved in a play.” Females eventually made their own group called the Ova and “paraded around the track at halftime with antics and gyrations that some spectators found offensive or obscene.” Trinity administrators forced both groups to disband in 1989.

Here are some of the most popular current traditions:

1) Tower Climb

Year tradition began: After 1964

Each Trinity student has the opportunity to climb to the top of the tower twice during their time on campus: once at the beginning of the fall semester of their first year and once as a graduating senior. Make sure to wear tennis shoes, as the tower is 166 feet tall, meaning plenty of steps.

2) Birthday Fountaining

Year tradition began: 1966

At midnight of a student’s birthday, that student is taken to Miller Fountain, and, depending on how nice the student’s friends are, is either thrown or escorted into the cold water.

3) Vespers and Christmas on Oakmont

Years traditions began: 1967 and 1972, respectively

Vespers takes place in Parker Chapel where the choir gives a Christmas performance accompanied by a short service. Following Vespers, students walk over to Oakmont Court and visit the residence of the university president as well as a few other administrators’ homes for free holiday-inspired food and drinks, such as tamales, hot apple cider, pot stickers and various desserts.

4) Spotlight

Year tradition began: 1986

Originating from Sing Song, Best of Trinity Spotlight showcases the talent of Trinity students with a variety of acts in Laurie Auditorium during Spring Family Weekend.

5) Martin Luther King,                                                                                                                              Jr., March

Year tradition began: 1987

San Antonio first put on the event in 1987, and every year since then Trinity has made its presence felt with high attendance rates. A guest speaker gives a lecture the following day in Laurie Auditorium.

6) Calvert Ghosts

Year tradition began: 1989

Around Halloween, students covered in white flour, mostly from Calvert Hall, streak around campus in varying degrees of nudity.

7) Northrup Seal

Year tradition began: 2004

Unless a student wants to spend an extra year at Trinity, all necessary precautions should be taken to avoid stepping on the seal outside of Northrup.

8) Nacho Hour

Year tradition began: 2006

Every Wednesday from 3:33 p.m. to 4:33 p.m., free nachos and aguas frescas are served in the Coates University Center.

9) Midnight Breakfast for Finals

Year tradition began: Unknown

Each semester, a free breakfast is held in Mabee Dining Hall the night before finals begin. Faculty and staff are often present to serve eggs, bacon, orange juice and other breakfast fixings to hungry students.

10) Magic Stones

Year tradition began: Unknown

Although it may be difficult right now with all of the construction, supposedly studying at the Magic Stones in front of the Elizabeth Huth Coates Library will guarantee an A on an upcoming exam.