Back in the older days of our highly esteemed university, there were some very… odd traditions pertaining to freshmen and their relationship with the sophomores. Trust me; if you haven’t heard of the freshman beanie, you’re missing out.
Upon arriving on campus, the “freshies” were required to wear green beanies for the first semester until homecoming in November, or unless they beat the sophomores in a competition. This competition entailed either a “Bag Rush” – imagine football, but with giant bags instead of a ball – or a tug of war. The bag rush is still a bit enigmatic to me, as there are plenty of pictures and scores for it, but very few rules that I have found. The only explicit rule was that if the freshmen won, they could stop wearing the beanies. They would even be allowed to burn their beanies at the Homecoming bonfire, according to the 1934 yearbook.
The punishment for not wearing the beanie depended on the year, of course. In the 1933 edition of Tamanawas, we can find at least a dozen students handcuffed to trees and porches. In 1955, they dyed one girl’s hair green. In 1953, they implemented the “hot seat – freshmen only”, as seen in the picture. Though described as an electric chair, I’m fairly certain that actually electrocuting students (even for such a hideous grievance as not wearing their beanie) was still illegal, and that the sophomores really only smeared black paint on the offenders. Or at least I hope that’s all that happened.
Either way, I’m sure all of our new frosh can be glad that the beanie is now just a tidbit of the past, though if you’d like to try one on for size you can stop by the Archives & Special Collections’ open hours any Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. You could always just leaf through the yearbooks for some of the pictures, too.
By Morgan Ford ‘17