TU’s annual bonfire is one of the most attended campus traditions. photo by Emily Every

125 years of tradition at the University of Tulsa

TU celebrates traditions year round, starting with running through a fountain and ending with ringing the bell.

Traditions are what make up a university, what they are known for in the city that they call home. It can be a chant, a ceremony or a celebration. There are a number of things that can make a university what it is, and, at the University of Tulsa, homecoming week is packed full of traditions.

Even if it takes some effort to catch fire, the bonfire concludes homecoming week for a reason, enchanting many University of Tulsa students and visiting families. Not even a thunderstorm and freezing conditions can stop the tradition from happening.

Homecoming is comprised of countless smaller traditions, alongside new events. During homecoming week, one night is always dedicated to street painting, wherein resident hall associations, greek organizations and other student-led groups are given a portion of Eighth Street to paint in three hours coordinating to a theme. The other events vary each year. This year’s events include such things as casino night and a fall festival, but the ending is always the same: the homecoming bonfire and football game.

Constructing the bonfire earlier in the week, on Friday night of homecoming week, the bonfire is lit as fireworks explode in the background. It is a prime photo opportunity and a family-friendly event where the homecoming court, top 10 freshmen and top 10 seniors are also announced. The University of Tulsa is known for the bonfire as pictures date back to the 1970s.
A student’s time at the University of Tulsa is bookended by traditions: student life begins with the freshman sprint through the Chapman Commons fountains and ends with ringing the Kendall Bell at Bayless Plaza after students’ last class.

Near the end of orientation week is the glow tour, a glow in the dark scavenger hunt around the entire campus that ends with all of the orientation groups sprinting through the fountains in front of Collins Hall together. Between the squeals of the freshman class and the music blasting from speakers around Chapman Commons, it is the perfect initiation into becoming a member of the Golden Hurricane.

To mirror this event is the ringing of Kendall bell, a tradition that dates back over half a century. Once a University of Tulsa student finishes their last class, they are allowed to ring the bell to signify the conclusion of their undergraduate career. Be warned, though, because if someone rings the bell in advance, it is said that that student will fail all of their finals and never graduate.

Similar to homecoming, the University of Tulsa is known for the tradition of Springfest, a week long celebration with a theme that is concluded with a musical guest performance. In the past, Imagine Dragons, Panic! at the Disco and Ben Rector have performed, as well as many others. Springfest is a week of learning and exploring, like last year when students learned how to play the drums from the Panamanian group La Luna Llena de Tambores.

Before winter break occurs, Sharp Chapel hosts a Festival of Lessons and Carols. A tradition that dates back in Europe hundreds of years, this is a celebration of caroling and the lighting of the chapel. It is perfect to get into the holiday spirit as the weather begins to shift.

A tradition that does not solely depend on the season, but is still an entire day dedicated to the spirit of the Golden Hurricane, is the university’s Day of Service. Every year, the university picks an organization in Tulsa to team up with, and, on a specific day of the year, students participate and give service to the organization. It celebrates giving back to the community and helping other people as well as working together with a team to achieve a common goal.

One tradition almost as old as the ringing of Kendall Bell is the Toilet Bowl, John Mabee resident hall’s annual flag football game, that has been going on for over 50 years. Like most events on campus, there is free food and music for all students and families that show up to support the players. There is even the crowning of the Toilet Bowl queen.

There are also new traditions being crafted every year, such as Sam Trizza kickstarting the 12:12 fight song chant in the Allen Chapman Student Union every Friday afternoon. At 12:12 p.m. on the dot, everyone in the student union begin to chant and clap the fight song to inspire student unity and school pride.

So many traditions make up the University of Tulsa, from ones that have always been popular to those that have been phased out with time. No matter what, though, there is always something for everyone to represent the Golden Hurricane.

Post Author: Myranda New