By Anna Marie Blackburn
When you step foot on campus on move-in day, you are more than likely bombarded with information about activities and encouraged to attend every welcome function in the hopes of “making new friends” and “getting involved” in the many traditions of your new alma mater. This behavior continues with the floor meetings and connector parties (all with thanks to your incredible Peer Leaders) that will keep you busy if schoolwork isn’t enough. However, the events that no one tells you about will turn out to be your favorite first year memories.
Yellow Jacket Alley: Whether you are a hardcore football fanatic or you have never watched a snap of college football in your life, it is hard to avoid the Jacket fans on Saturdays in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Only a crosswalk away from all first-year dorms, the weekends are dedicated to the white and gold typically beginning festivities two hours before kick-off at Jacket Alley. Fans, families and GT students line Brittain Drive to see the Jacket players before they get into pads. The band begins to play our classic fight songs as they lead both the Goldrush girls and cheerleaders followed by the famous Ramblin Wreck and Reck Club members. The Alley is reserved only for starting players and additional selected members of the team for the day’s game who unload the charter bus from their overnight hotel stay and proceed down the gold and white stripped path, dressed to impress in suit and tie. This gives players an opportunity to both snap pictures with their biggest fans and stop and hug their family members before heading into the locker room. It starts each game day off with just the right amount of GT pride. Kristen Salkowski, first year Goldrush dancer, had a lot to say about why she loves this special tradition; “Because it happens much earlier than the game, YJA is my favorite part of my performance. It’s mostly the die hard fans that are there which makes the atmosphere so much more lively! One of my favorite memories of YJA is when my grandma came down to watch the game. She’s almost completely blind, but because it’s a more intimate setting, she was able to be in the front row and was able to watch me perform, something she wasn’t able to do very well during the game!” So shake off the week behind you, rise and shine, then get out there to cheer on your favorite student athletes in game day attire. I promise it will be worth it.
The Horse: One of the most underestimated of the traditions here at The Institute happens after each Georgia Tech win. When fans have cleared the bleachers and the field is clear, the GT Band takes the stage and plays the “horse song”. Students stand in their original seats at both end zones and dance completely through the first verse, but when the second first begins, everyone scatters to a new section to finish out the song. Most students don’t stay for the whole game to avoid the crowd leaving the stadium, but those who do stand the heat for five more minutes enjoy this unique moment with their fellow student body members.
Run of the Roses: Once the bid cards have been signed in blood (kidding), you are thrown into a sister or brotherhood full of secret handshakes and themed date nights, but that is only the beginning.
At Georgia Tech, once formal recruitment is over Run of the Roses is held to help (in a way) introduce the newest pledge class of every sorority to the new brothers of each fraternity on campus. Each girl is told to wear their most comfortable sundress and the best running shoes they own because the course to each of the thirty-three houses averages around 3.3 miles in the blazing sun. Streets are roped off and Georgia Tech Police line the course to keep both runners and casual bystanders safe. Girls race their fellow pledge class members to each house in order to grab a spot in front of a nervous (and equally sweaty) boy. The two groups proceed to exchange choreographed song and dance routines to the summer’s most famous songs while trying to simultaneously catch their breath. At the end of each charade the girls who stood out receive a rose and then the group, as a whole, advances to the next house for another round. The night concludes with a vase full of multi-colored roses for each new female member of Greek life and a couple of scattered bouquets for older sisters from boyfriends and best guy friends across campus. Whether you are a part of the Greek community or not, this event is fun for all spectators and participants alike.
TUG: Sometimes you have to get down and dirty with the toughest girls you know. TUG is a special event during the annual campus wide Greek Week. Sororities assemble a team of hard working ladies (sometimes as early as November) to begin the rigorous training with a coaching staff from a volunteer fraternity. Although most practices consist of high agility workouts and strategy review, the real event is in a knee deep mud pit with a line of girls on each opposing side. Knots are tied evenly down the rope with towels and when the war begins, each girl leans backwards on their knot and tries to move backwards through the mud. Due to the slippery conditions, there is only one girl that maintains her position during the entire event. The anchor remains at the end of rope and tries to keep the team from moving forward and if another member of the team slides too close to the anchor, then the teammate must release the rope and run to the front of the line to re-grip. Freshman, Paige Steppe, is looking forward to the big day, “Honestly it is a lot of work, but we have so much fun with it instead of making practice a chore. I am excited to see the hard work pay off!” In a way, you could say it is a revamped version of tug-of-war with a little bit more grit and girl-power. Tug away or come watch the claws come out in one of the many Greek Week events!
The Whistle: No matter where you stand on campus, if you aren’t the one in class, a piercing sound will occasionally interrupt your conversations or even give you a wake-up call. The whistle was first installed in the renovated shop building in the fall of 1892 to regulate daily activities when Tech was getting off the ground as a trade school. In 1995 when G. Wayne Clough was inducted as the 10th president of Georgia Tech, the whistle was stolen for the first time since 1905. Two rebel students eventually returned the whistle to Mr. Clough’s office and it has since decorated both his office during his presidency at Georgia Tech and his position following at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The whistle symbols the end of class five minutes before every hour from the first 8 a.m. class to 6 p.m. when the day is finally wrapping up. You can also see the steam billowing and the whistle blowing after each touchdown and GT victory on game day. The tradition is very special to the Georgia Tech community and its history, so now that you know the significance, you can appreciate the sound that rings in your ears as you walk down Freshman Hill a little more.
Skyline on Design: The College of Design’s Architecture building is a secret escape for stressed Tech students. The roof offers a rustic version of the Clough’s open garden for the bold and adventurous to see the famous Atlanta skyline from a new point of view. A curly set of stairs on the side of the building itself gets you to the top floor where a very wobbly ladder is usually found. If you are lucky, the ladder connects you to the magic, but often maintenance personnel removes the ladder, especially during stressful times in the semester. Even though the lights across yet another city that never sleeps are the main attraction, make sure the company you climb with is just as exciting. Most freshman find time to make the trip and older students love to reminisce on their college experience before graduation. Georgia Tech takes you to high places…
Midnight Breakfast: When finals approach, stress levels exceed normal amounts and the CULC becomes more of a battleground than a workplace. Each year the Student Center Programs Council sponsors an event to release students from their hours of cramming for a little bit of late night fun. FREE activities include massages, inflatables, and therapy puppies in addition to breakfast served by Georgia Tech faculty and staff. Events like this and the many others show how close the student body is to the administration at Georgia Tech. Classes are rigorous and although we may feel like teachers are out to end us, they want success for us as much as we want it for ourselves. This night is not to simply fill your stomachs and give you a break from pulling out your hair, it is a night to connect with adults invested in your future and students drowning in finals with you.
In addition to many of the traditions you hear about at FASET, your life here at Georgia Tech is what you make it, so get out there and make it great!