Most CSU students go to class without worries of being thrown in the fountain or waiting to leave a class until all upperclassmen exit first.
For students in the early 1900s, these were traditions they could expect. Most of these traditions have been lost over the years, but some remain.
“(Tradition) gives students, staff, and faculty a sense of community,” said Doug Ernest, who currently works in the government publications library and has been at CSU for almost 21 years.
Traditions can give both a first-year student and someone who has worked at the university for many years the same excitement about a historical event, Ernest said.
“Tubbing” was an activity popular on campus in the early days of CSU, where students were thrown into a pond on campus, according to “Democracy’s College in the Centennial State: A History of Colorado State University,” by James E. Hansen.
In 1919, the freshman and sophomore classes became bitter rivals. The two competed in events such as tug-of-war and a struggle over which class could produce more hands on a stick or cane after fighting over it for a few minutes, known as the “Rite of Cane”.
The victorious class, usually the sophomores, would then post proclamations that set rules for the losers or made challenges that usually incorporated a vast amount of insults.
Freshmen were ordered to wear green dinky caps with yellow buttons, were not allowed to leave the chapel until all upperclassmen had left and had to collect all the wood used for bonfires at rallies.
Due to the accidental death of a student during a tug-of-war contest in 1929, the traditional class competition was eventually abandoned.
One tradition that lives on to this day is the whitewashing of the “A” that sits on the mountain west of Hughes Stadium.
The “A”, representative of the Aggies, CSU’s mascot until the Ram took over, was completed in 1924.
John McClave remembers participating in the whitewashing event along with his brothers of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity when he attended CSU from 1960-1964.
“My first year we went up there and put coloring on it,” McClave said.
Today, the Student Alumni Connection, members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the freshmen football players participate in whitewashing the “A” during Homecoming week.
In 1997, the Homecoming Torch Run was initiated as a CSU tradition. The Friday before the Homecoming game, a torch lit from the bonfire on the CSU campus is run to the “A”, which is then set a blaze.
The torch run is symbolic of the link between the CSU’s Aggie past and the present, said Becky Helgoth, president of the Student Alumni Connection.
“We put on these events to signify what made our university what it is today,” Helgoth said.