Living in a 10×10 cinderblock cell and eating the same cafeteria pizza every day tends to get old. We’re bound to find ridiculous ways of entertaining ourselves. Surprisingly, streaking isn’t among the oddest things college students do as a result of cabin (er, dorm) fever — not even close actually. How about building a 700+foot sub sandwich? Driving up to 1,000 miles to check off a scavenger hunt item? Or dropping a 400-pound pumpkin off the roof? Check out our list of the zaniest university traditions.
1. Scav Hunt – University of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
Every Mother’s Day weekend, the University of Chicago hosts the largest scavenger hunt in the WORLD (made official by the Guinness Book of World Records). This event is not your average scavenger hunt. Spanning over four days, the list even sends students across state lines. According to the website, the trip is designed to go within 1,000 miles of Chicago. Previous trips have led students to New Orleans, Wyoming and even Canada.
Jeremy Ziring, senior at University of Chicago and Head Judge of next year’s hunt, elaborates, “Some items are the sorts of ‘go-find-its’ you’d expect to find in a scavenger hunt, but much harder to acquire (a medal of honor, your team’s logo pictured at the South Pole, and a lion, tiger or bear on campus have all been list items). Other items require extensive building, such as an aquagraphic water curtain or a piano that mixes a drink when a specific song is played.”
2. Renn Fayre – Reed College – Portland, Oregon
“Spontaneous dance parties, collective haircuts, Renn Fayre — it’s a nice combination of blowing off steam and creative anarchy.” That’s Renn Fayre according to student Lindsay Juarez on Reed’s website. Originally, Renaissance Fayre was a one-day event in the spring that turned the campus into the Age of the Renaissance as realistically as possible. Now, Renn Fayre is a campus-wide end-of-the-year blowout lasting three days. Naked people covered in blue paint, lube wresting, fireworks, a Glow Opera and a giant fire composed of students’ notes? Renn Fayre has it all.
Renn Fayre is preceded by Nitrogen Day, a campus-wide party/tribute to “one of the universe’s most important, yet underappreciated elements.”
Truly one of the wildest university-sanctioned traditions, the essence of Renn Fayre is best captured in photographs. Check some out here.
3. Big Sub – Barnard College (Columbia University) – New York, New York
Barnard College puts the standard foot long to shame with a 700+ foot-long sub (no, that isn’t a typo — 700!) As a way to blow off midterm steam each year, a combination of the college’s students and dining services staff craft a sub that extends from one end of campus to the other. The sub is so big that students need a map to navigate it, according to Annie Aversa, associate dean of campus and residential life at Barnard. Students stake out at their favorite section.
“It’s gone before you can blink an eye,” said former Barnard student, Shannon Troy. “Especially the veggie sub portions. I’m not sure whether that’s due to it being in New York City or being an all girl’s school … It’s an all-day affair for a hurried flurry of consumption.”
Fun fact? Aversa said it took more than 800 pounds of materials (meat, cheese and veggies) to create last year’s sub.
4. Dragon Day – Cornell University – Ithaca, New York
Every spring, Cornell University’s first-year architecture students parade a giant, homemade dragon around campus as flamboyant spectators follow. This tradition, commonly referred to as “Dragon Day,” dates back more than 100 years.The day signifies a challenge between architecture and engineering students, in which the engineering students attempt to rival the dragon with “an equally grand phoenix,” according to Colin Budd, junior at Cornell.
Budd’s first experience with Dragon Day was last year. “I expected a parade of chaos mixed with creativity and I was not disappointed,” Budd said. “…From giant vegetables promenading around campus to an army donned in “Green Man” costumes, Dragon Day has its fair share of wild sightings.”
5. Liquid Latex – Brandeis University – Waltham, Massachusetts
Brandeis University landed an honorable mention in Playboy Magazine’s ratings of party schools because of their risqué annual show, Liquid Latex. What is it, exactly? Simply put, students perform a show wearing latex paint – and nothing else. “Liquid Latex is a club at Brandeis solely devoted to performing in Liquid Latex body paint that encourages individuals to embrace their own bodies and push their limits in a semi-socially acceptable manner,” according to the university’s website. The tradition, though suggestive, is carrying into its 13th year with more interest among students than ever.
6. Couch Burning – West Virginia University – Morgantown, West Virginia
Why sit around the bonfire when you can burn the couch itself? WVU students know what I’m saying. It’s unknown exactly when or why the celebration of burning couches began, though newspapers do record a time after a massive basketball upset in 1981 when 600+ fans set fire in the streets.
Students have mixed feelings about whether this unofficial tradition warrants the negative reaction it’s received from school officials and the community (recently, the student government launched a PSA “Save a Couch, Don’t Burn One.”) According to Jairus Morton, senior at WVU, it depends on the occasion. “The day of the death of Osama bin Laden, there were something like 33 fires around Morgantown and the “riots,” as the papers called them, were peaceful. Everyone was united, burning furniture and singing patriotic songs.” Elliott Ianello, grad student at WVU, said, “It could be an awesome tradition if the university actually had a sanctioned, controlled event where we could burn the furniture in a controlled environment… but instead kids riot and get tear gassed.” Regardless of mixed opinions, it’s obvious the tradition remains a hot (get it?) pastime.
7. Polar Bear Swim – Dartmouth College – Hanover, New Hampshire
As a part of each year’s Winter Carnival, a hole is carved out of the ice on Occom Pond on the north side of Dartmouth’s campus so hundreds of Ivy Leaguers can put down their books and have a little fun – that is, if your definition of fun is jumping into a freezing lake. Every February, students and staff have the opportunity participate in the annual “Polar Bear Swim,” which was started by daring students in the early 1990s.
8. Ring Dunking – Texas A&M – College Station, Texas
Home to many traditions, one of A&M’s oddest is actually not officially recognized by the university. Any Aggie knows the importance of their class ring, and to honor that ring? Dunk it in a pitcher of beer, of course! Newly acquired rings are dropped in a pitcher of beer and the student chugs the entire pitcher to catch the ring at the bottom in his or her teeth.
Hannah Meyer, junior at Texas A&M, said many students will wait for their friends to receive a ring in order to dunk together. Sometimes, students even rent out bars and do it on a stage for friends and families to watch. “It’s kind of like a rite of passage,” Meyer said. “I personally think it makes us really cohesive. We all (for the most part) know them and enjoy doing them. They’re really what we’re known for and we take pride in them.”
9. Civilian vs. Cadet Snowball Fight – Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Tech’s classrooms are empty on the first big snow of each year. At the sound of a fire alarm, students abandon their books for the university’s Drillfield, hashing out a little cabin fever frustration in the form of a good old-fashioned snowball fight. This annual event is an ode to the school’s heritage, as Virginia Tech used to be all Reserve Officer Training Corp; thus, civilians and cadets come equipped to compete against each other in a full-out winter brawl.
10. Pumpkin Drop – Muir College – University of California (San Diego), San Diego, California
For the past 38 Halloweens, a gigantic candy-filled pumpkin has been dropped from the 11th floor of Muir College’s Tioga Hall, the tallest building on the campus. The size of the pumpkin’s splat is measured each year. According to the college’s website, the largest splat in the history of the pumpkin drop occurred in 1995, when a 398-pound pumpkin spread more than 100 feet. The largest pumpkin in drop history was a 430-pound pumpkin in 2005.