There is only one time of the year when UR transforms from the typical mundane campus filled with scholars into a jungle gym full of rock stars and cotton candy. This Saturday, students will be taking a break from their $50,000 worth of papers and exams to engage in a 61-years-old UR tradition: Dandelion Day.
In case you are a freshman, transfer student or disgruntled upperclassman (living under a rock), D-Day, is a day in which students celebrate a year of hard work by letting their hair loose and partaking in festivities on the Wilson and Fraternity Quadrangle. Campus Activities Board equips the day with concert performances, carnival treats and games, and everyone’s favorite Uncle Dickies. As for the activities that go on in some dormitories, I will leave that to your imagination.
But was it always this way? Was D-Day always a big deal? The answer is yes and no. While the course of D-Day used to be radically different, fun was always there.
Fifty years ago, it was officially celebrated and supported by the College on a larger scale.
In a May 2, 1958 edition of Campus Times, a writer, Brenda Miller, began an article by describing D-Day as a day of fun and frolic, in which academics would be tossed to the side for social and congenial engagements. But, you might notice that if you ask your 72-year-old grandmother what fun and frolic means, you will get a profoundly different answer than the one your friendly frat-hopping friend gives you.
In 1958, D-Day was filled with sporting events, physical competitions, fraternity and sorority competitions and awards, cannons, musical ensembles and poetry recited by faculty. D-Day was more than a student-run tribal festival it was a day for all members of the UR community to soberly celebrate the things that the president would be embarrassed to share with parents.
The festivities kicked off the night before the big day with a UR Concert performance led by Dr. Woodbury on the steps of Psi Upsilon Fraternity House. UR Concert comprised of faculty members, including the Director of Religious Activities and Chaplain Robert Beavan and Director of Libraries and Librarian at Rush Rhees John Russel.
Then at 9:45 a.m. the next morning, students that overslept had to wake up to ‘1812 Overtures” on the chimes, accompanied by canons. That way, no student would be left behind in their comfy dormroom beds.
The day of physical activities picked up with a march by ROTC men in the Athletics Center, ushering in the highly contested annual tug of war.
The rest of the day included a golf tournament, canoe races, a faculty versus seniors tennis ball game and dancing in the streets in front of Todd Union.
Unlike the modern version of D-Day, the tradition was primarily for the men. There was no use looking forward to seeing your Chemistry Teacher’s Assistant let loose in Daisy Dukes it was a day to hang with the boys.
The award ceremony during the afternoon was no less male dominated than the activities. The awards included Best Male Athlete, Male who Contributed the Most to the Campus Community, and Best Male Intramural Athlete. Female fun on D-Day was so scarce that athletic activities would be moved to the Female Residential Hall in the event of rain.
Fifty-two years later, there are women all over the quad, bands perform for us and the College seems to shy away from the D-Day climate.
Though the climate has changed, fun is the constant; we just have fun a bit differently than Uncle Dicky’s graduating class year.
Nathaniel is a member of the class of 2011