The Boar’s Head Dinner is UR’s oldest non-Greek tradition. The dinner, which began in 1934, is based on a tale of a student at Oxford. As legend has it, the student, while walking and reading in a forest, was attacked by a wild boar. He saved his life by thrusting his book down the pig’s throat, choking it. The college then had a feast to celebrate the occasion.

To begin the feast at Oxford — and later at UR — a procession would bring the boar’s head in and present it. According to Vice President and General Secretary Paul Burgett, it became a UR tradition that the boar’s head would be stolen as soon as it was brought in.

“Members of the fraternities would sort of ‘lie in wait,’ trolling in the general area of the head table,” Burgett said. “Usually they had lubricated their nerves with a considerable amount of fermented vegetation and shortly after the boar’s head was in place, a melee would ensue and someone would successfully capture the thing and disappear.”

In 1992, the fight was unusually disastrous, and a decision was made to eliminate the boar’s head from the dinner.

That decision, Burgett said, caused a lot of anger among students. The brothers of Zeta Beta Tau approached Burgett and asked him if they could provide their own boar at the dinner and put it at their table if they promised to remain orderly.

“They asked, how can you have a Boar’s Head Dinner without an actual boar’s head?” he said.

The sisters of Gamma Phi Beta then approached Burgett and asked him if the brothers could present them the boar’s head. He said yes, and the tradition of passing the boar began. Most recently, the Pride Network presented the head to Grassroots.

“It has become something of a big deal,” Burgett said. “A much better outcome than those earlier days of flying fruit and besotted students.”

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