Connect trivia: Student traditions of the past

This week’s trivia question took a look at CWRU student traditions of the past and asked participants to identify which of the following was not an actual tradition:

  • Students from each class would perform in a mini-circus, with one class winning best-in-show
  • Students would play an annual basketball game under the names Harvard and Yale
  • Students would host a costume ball in honor of a U.S. president with skits and songs
  • Students would plant a tree, perform a play, and sing their class song at the ceremony

The first tradition, “Students from each class would perform in a mini-circus, with one class winning best-in-show,” was the imposter, which 35.6 percent of respondents spotted. The other three options were all real traditions from the Flora Stone Mather College for Women of Western Reserve University.

The basketball game tradition referred to—which was tied as most popular answer at 35.6 percent—an all-star student game held in March or April in the first half of the 20th century. By 1912, the teams competed under the satirical names of Harvard and Yale, a tradition which continued for more than 50 years.

The third option, a costume ball in honor of a U.S. president, is true, though the event’s focus eventually shifted. While the costume party initially was held in honor of President George Washington’s birthday in 1905, eventually the Mather students began calling it the Martha Washington Party, which continued until 1939. Just 16.8 percent of respondents were tricked.

The last of the traditions was known as Tree Day, and only 11.9 percent of respondents thought it was fake. The year of the first tree day may not be known, but as early as 1902, sophomores at the College for Women would present an original play, plant a tree and sing their class song in late May.