Post Classifieds

UConn lacks tradition

By Sten Spinella
On March 24, 2014

If "college culture revolves around age-old traditions," as "USA Today" postulates, where does UConn's culture come from?

The Undergraduate Student Government is working to discover the answer. The newly founded Student Development Committee, along with members and senators Rachel Conboy, John Sinnorai and committee chair Hailey Manfredi, are currently in the process of finding ways to instill a sense of history and tradition in UConn students and culture.

"Myself, along with other USG members, attended a conference in February hosted by Texas A&M," Conboy wrote in an email. "It allowed us to network with student governments from all across the country and exchange ideas and programs. We quickly noticed the pride that students had in the history their school had. Other universities of comparable size and age to our own had a rich background in tradition that united them and gave them a stronger sense of pride and connection to where they attended school."

After Conboy pitched the idea to the committee, they began research on universities that were similar to UConn in terms of population and tenure, like the University of Texas, University of Florida and Vanderbilt University, among others. What they found was that UConn doesn't have traditions.

Yale University has its "foot of good luck," where students rub the foot of a statue of former university president James Dwight Woolse in order to ensure their graduation. The University of Texas pays special attention to their fight song and their alma mater. The University of Florida has 40 traditions; including taking a nap in a specific place on campus and painting a certain wall that has layers of paint from new coats every year. UF even provides incentive: you can receive a badge or a medallion upon graduation, depending on how many traditions you've completed.

"It is upsetting to see what is claimed as our tradition when two of the three are at many other universities and not special to UConn," Conboy noted. "Another kind of tradition is the oak leaf in the middle of Fairfield way, which students aren't supposed to step on or the superstition is they won't graduate in four years. Alas, students walk all over it anyway and I even see tours who step right on top of it."

The three UConn traditions that Conboy mentioned are listed on the University website as "Oozeball," the "One Ton Sundae," and "Midnight Breakfast." One Ton Sundae is also celebrated at Carleton College and Johnson and Wales University. 

Conboy and the Student Services committee want something completely unique to UConn. While Oozeball, the yearly mud-volleyball-tournament that began in 1984, originated at UConn, it is now at many other institutions, such as the University of Texas, the University of Nevada, the University of North Carolina and the University of Rhode Island. Midnight Breakfast is also served to stressed students at the end of the semester at Barnard College, the College of Holy Cross and George Washington University. 

The nature of tradition is the determined accumulation of legend and myth over a number of years. How can the Student Development Committee manufacture such a phenomenon?

Conboy and her colleagues are aware of the difficulty. They have proposed ingraining tradition as soon as prospective students visit UConn, during tours and orientation. They have offered suggestions such as all students singing the Alma Mater at football games with the marching band.

While Conboy emphasizes that they are in the early stages of the project, she is excited for the future.

"I guess you could say I want students to not just be proud they went to a school with a good basketball team, but be proud to be a Husky, to be attending a school that has evolved and grown over 100 years," she wrote. "We want to ignite something in each student that will connect them to UConn even years after they leave."

If any students have an idea for a tradition, whether it's the creation of a new one or the revival of an old one, contact senators Conboy and Sinnorai at rachel.conboy@uconn.edu and john.sinnorai@uconn.edu. 


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