As the students of Arizona State University strip down to their underwear and ran through their campus, they were starting what many hope will be a yearly charity event, and even more importantly, a tradition. ASU is not the first school to have an Undie Run, UCLA has been having nearly-naked runs since 2002, and the run has become something of a tradition to the Bruins. Penn State
is witness to an annual bare-ass event during finals, where mostly male students streak down Mifflin Road, trying to avoid getting arrested for public lewdness.
But what makes a onetime event such as the ASU Undie Run catch on and become a tradition? Every school has several, be it to support the football team or to break the stress of finals. Yale has the ball hop in December, a roving semi-formal that moves from one college residence hall to another throughout the night.
Texas A&M has the Midnight Yell practice, where yell leaders lead the crowd of Aggiesthrough fight songs, old army yells, and chants the night before the first football game as a way to pump up the Twelfth Man, the Aggie faithful.
UNC has the Old Well, where freshman line-up to drink from the well before their first class, because tradition holds that if a student drinks from the well before their first class they will graduate with a 4.0. While campaigns to stop grade inflation have made getting a 4.0 a bit harder than drinking from an old fountain, the tradition still lives.
But what makes a tradition last? Most seem to start out as informal events, the brainchild of a group of students who will probably drift back into obscurity but whose actions will resonate throughout the ages.
It often starts as something simple, like at Boston College’s
Superfans, who were trying to make the Eagles games more exciting, creating a “Gold Rush Game.” The Superfans managed to turn the entire student section gold with “Superfan” t-shirts during a televised game against Virginia Tech, and now no game, be it basketball or volleyball, is without a few specs of gold scattered throughout the crowd.
These events, myths, and anomalies help unify the student body, and those that participate seem to develop a vested interested in not only their GPA and classes, but the culture and social aspect of the school. It adds much more to the classes, the games, and the parties. Having traditions not only helped us get through the finals, but they also are something we hold onto well after we graduate. They help us reconnect to our glory days, returning that gleam of idealism and youth that has lost its luster after the years away from our hollowed days at college.