Orientation itself is a tradition! Each year since 1934, the University of Chicago has set time aside before classes begin (sometimes as many as 15 days!) to provide an introduction to the University for all new students. Faculty, staff, and returning students have worked together to help incoming students register for their classes and get to know Chicago—both the city and the school.
This is perhaps one of the most important things any new student should know, so we listed it first. While more of a superstition than a tradition, rumor has it that if you step on the University Seal, located on the floor of the main lobby in the Reynolds Club, you won’t graduate in four years. To help you commit this to memory, the College Programming Office (CPO) ropes off the coat of arms during O-Week. After that, you’re on your own.
Be among the few, proud University of Chicago students who actually know the words to the Alma Mater. Practice and by graduation you can belt it out with the rest of the Class of 2015.
To land the job of designing an entire college campus is every architect’s dream, but when Henry Ives Cobb found out his creative vision would be restricted to constructing an University entirely in the Neo-Gothic style, he was a bit miffed. When the time came to design the traditional architect’s gift to the campus, Cobb designed the magnificent Hull Gate with the mindset that if UChicago wanted Neo-Gothic, they were going to get it: and topped the thing with ten garish, cartoon-like gargoyles. Today, we hold these gargoyles in loving esteem, believing the foreboding bottom two represent the Admissions Counselors, defying ready passage into the school, and the remaining four tiers illustrate each year of the undergraduate experience, with the proud fourth-year resting at the pinnacle.
This is one tradition that really can’t be beat. Where else can you get a fabulous shake in your choice of flavor with whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry…FOR JUST $1?! That’s right; Wednesday is Shake Day at the C-Shop/Einstein’s in the Reynolds Club. Even if it’s -2 degrees outside, the line often snakes out the door—it’s a tradition not to be missed.
You might want to start preparing now for this tradition. While only 26 years old, the Annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt has certainly become a student favorite. In 2011 UChicago’s Scav Hunt broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest scavenger and in 2012 Scav Hunt was featured the July issue of the New Yorker. Beginning at midnight on a Thursday morning and ending on “Judgment Day” the following Sunday, students are challenged with tasks that require them to do everything from building an aquarium and a nuclear reactor to obtaining a live tiger. Everyone from students to administrators and faculty get into the act, and all agree it’s an epic time.
In the early days, the University of Chicago fought on the playing field against the mighty Big Ten powerhouses of today. In fact, the University of Chicago won the very first Big Ten title and was home to the first Heisman Trophy winner, Jay Berwanger, AB ‘36. Of course, the College is comparably much smaller today, giving us different sports rivalries. Nonetheless, if you have any friends that are going to school at Notre Dame, make sure they know that the University of Chicago is undefeated against Notre Dame, and has the most successful record against them of any other school (4-0).
Long before the Regenstein Library was ever conceived, the majestic Stagg Field stood on 57th Street, and beneath it, a mostly unnoticed gloomy squash court beneath the west stands. It was on the squash court on December 2, 1942, that a team of scientists led by famed physicist Enrico Fermi lit the first atomic fire on earth. The newest addition to the Regenstein Library is the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which features a glass-domed reading room and robotic retrieval arms to bring students books from their underground homes.
Directly across from Cobb Hall lies the C-Bench, a long (and somewhat uncomfortable) “acoustically perfect” bench given to the University by the Class of 1903. For quite some time, only Varsity Lettermen and their dates were allowed to occupy the bench. By the 1960's this trend had faded out, and today, the bench provides a social gathering point for all students, and is a favorite spot for those enjoying a break from their classes.
Those who have read Devil in the White City know well that the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893, attracting millions of people to the city and the Hyde Park area. When Chicago was chosen to host the Fair, civic leaders immediately chose to place it on the Hyde Park section of the Midway, which they considered the most interesting and beautiful location in the city. Today, you can sit and read a book in the same spot that the world’s first Ferris Wheel stood proudly—with cars big enough for 60 people each!