For anyone concerned about flashy Wesleyan selling points to brag about to your friends over Thanksgiving break, fear not. We may not have a Naked Quad Run (Hey, Tufts) or a SexPowerGod party (What up, Brown), but Wes features a variety of its own illustrious traditions for the clothing inclined and disinclined alike.
The Wesleyan Fight Song
The first tradition you’ll encounter is, of course, the Wesleyan Fight Song. By the time you read this article, you will have experienced the pleasure (?) of being squished in alongside the sweaty bodies of several hundred strangers and forced to learn our esteemed call to arms. Seriously, don’t brush it off as lame. Learning the words will come in handy at a football game, or equally likely, at 2 a.m. at a party when you can’t completely figure out why a rousing rendition of the fight song seems like a good idea. Embrace it. Go Wes!
The Douglas Cannon
The Douglas cannon is part of a Wesleyan tradition that is so famous it has its own Wikipedia page. Starting in 1867, the cannon was used in “cannon scraps,” during which the freshmen would attempt to fire it on the morning of Feb. 22 and the sophomores would try to thwart their efforts. The scraps were ended in 1916, but they began the tradition of stealing the Douglas cannon.
In 1961, students who had stolen the cannon presented it to the Soviet Union’s delegate to the U.N., which forced the dean of students to drive to New York to get it back. In 1969, the cannon was brought to the White House and presented to President Nixon as a protest of the Vietnam War. From the 1970s to 2007, the cannon sent letters and postcards to the University, and sometimes included photos of it in places including Montreal, London, and Paris. In 1981, the cannon showed up at the University’s 150th anniversary celebration in a cake cut open by the president’s wife. The cannon has been rumored to be under University control in recent years. It most recently surfaced last May, when it was on display in Zelnick for a few hours. Seems like that would have been a golden opportunity for someone to steal it again, but oh well, there’s always next time.
Yes, the rumors are true. Wesleyan does have secret societies: namely the Mystical Seven and Skull and Serpent. According to an article by Benjamin Wyatt-Greene ’02, The Mystical Seven was formed in 1837 and was influenced by Freemasonry. The society focused on the many significances of the number seven and “The Mystery.” I have no idea what this means. Nicholas Cage probably does, though.
Supposedly, in the early days of the Mystical Seven, the members would meet on Fridays to share their writings and would then march off into a nearby cemetery with the head of the society leading the way with a sword. The society once had a building, but it was destroyed in a fire in the mid-1990s. Wyatt-Greene claims the society still exists today in two distinct groups; at one point, thinking the Mystical Seven had died out, a group of students re-started the society only to find out that the original organization had existed all along. The controversy persists to this day.
The Skull and Serpent society was formed in 1865 and “membership was confined to the officers of the three prestigious fraternities on Wesleyan’s campus, The Eclectic Society, Alpha Delta Phi, and Psi Upsilon,” according to Wyatt-Greene. Members of DKE, which was new at the time, were not invited to join. In the 1940s and ’50s, the Mystical Seven and Skull and Serpent were populated by many students who went on to become administrators and trustees.
Whispers of Skull and Serpent still persist on the ACB. Last fall, several students were lucky enough to get slips of paper in their WesBoxes (not quite as legit as an invitation on the back of the Declaration of Independence, but I guess they’re working with limited resources) inviting them to the WestCo graveyard at night, but from what I heard, it ended up being nothing. Skull and Serpent is also somehow affiliated with The Tomb. The door’s almost always locked, and you can’t see much even if a friend boosts you up to look through the window (not that I’ve ever tried that…), but you’re welcome to check it out for yourself. Rumor has it parties happen there occasionally, which are announced by blaring music from a boom box and an empty room waiting for partygoers.
On a much less secretive note, Wes has a tradition of a primal scream held at midnight the night before finals begin. Students emerge from wherever they’ve been holed up studying for the past few days, yell their lungs out on the steps of Olin, and then retreat to their study lairs; they leave the scream invigorated but resigned to the mountain of work that they inevitably should have started a few days earlier.
Naked parties: they happen. Lingerie parties: they happen. This is what being a Wesleyan student is all about. We strive to maintain our reputation of #1 horniest school. It’s a badge that we wear on our partially-to-completely naked bodies with pride.
And while we’re on the topic of nudity, some of you who visited campus during WesFest weekend may have been lucky enough to witness about a hundred of your new schoolmates casually using Olin Library’s wonderful resources clad only in their underwear. While this is not how we usually study—although I wouldn’t be opposed if that movement got started—the event, dubbed “Undies in Olin,” does go to show that many Wes students take advantage of any opportunity to strip down.
Tour De Franzia
Tour de Franzia. Late spring. That’s all I’ll say.
So there you have it. Wes boasts traditions you can talk about with your fragile, easily shocked grandparents and your best friends. There’s something for everyone, so start rocking your Cardinal pride!