Did You Know: Student traditions

The Case Western Reserve University community is celebrating Legacy Week to honor the institution’s rich history. For the remainder of the week, we will highlight an aspect of the university’s story to help connect the community even though we are physically apart.

Homecoming and the Hudson Relays are the university’s longest-standing traditions, but through the years some lesser-known student traditions have provided a fun distraction from classes and a way for students to bond. Some have aged better than others, but Case Western Reserve University has a long history of student traditions:

Flag Rush and Flag Hunt

Long before Humans vs. Zombies contests on campus, students from Case Institute of Technology, Adelbert College and Flora Stone Mather College for Women participated in contests that involved hiding a flag somewhere in a building. Other versions of the game involved first-year students trying to retrieve a flag from a greased flagpole guarded by sophomores. First-year students typically competed against sophomores and the victors were rewarded in ways that ranged from making the losing teams buy dinner to making the losers wear embarrassing costumes. The contests, which seemed most popular in the early to mid-1900s, are detailed in Recollections, the former University Archives blog.

Spring Olympics

Black and white photo of students participating in a Spring Olympics event with students running, one with a shopping cart

A student tradition that only lasted from the 1980s to the early 1990s was an informal competition among residence halls on south campus. A shopping-cart race seemed to be the most memorable event on the list of competitions that included volleyball games, five-legged races and egg tosses. 

Tree Day

For many years, sophomores at the College for Women, later called Flora Stone Mather College for Women, would plant a tree each spring and perform an original play. The tradition dates back to the early 1900s. The Reserve Weekly student newspaper reported on the event in 1912, when students dedicated their play, ?, to President Charles Thwing.