Stanford’s strange kissing tradition – and 5 other unusual college customs

(freepik.com)
(freepik.com)

Stanford University is known for many things: its interdisciplinary curriculum, a heavenly campus, super-smart students – and the annual kissing event. Yes, Stanford is famous for its annual  “Full Moon on the Quad,” which – as the Stanford Web site explains – is an event in which “freshmen are kissed at midnight by seniors under the first full moon of Fall Quarter.” Almost as famous is the traditional aftermath: a lot of kids getting sick from the same virus.

Because a scheduling problem the event was held  Oct. 22, some days after the first full moon, but held it was – and now, the Stanford Daily reports:

With Full Moon on the Quad behind us, there’s no shortage of illness going around campus. Sniffles, fever, rhinovirus – you name it, and guaranteed someone has it. The worst, and probably most ubiquitous, symptom of post-Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) plague, though, is coughing.

The New York Times wrote about the tradition in this story, saying that the school  has chosen not to stop the event and tries to teach “safe kissing” to avoid mass sickness. It quotes Ira M. Friedman, director of the Vaden Student Health Center,  as saying that kissers are urged to get permission from kissees before making a move.

We try to create an environment in which they don’t feel they must participate in the exchange of oral secretions.

Yes, of course, it is flu season and dormitories are notorious as places where disease spreads quickly, but, still Friedman was quoted as saying that beyond that, “we do think the event is a potentiator.”

Stanford, of course, is hardly the only campus with unusual traditions. Here are some others:

Primal Scream at Harvard University  –  At midnight on the last night of reading period and before final exams in both semesters, students – either naked or wearing only items such capes and top hats – run around the Old Yard for a lap or two.

Healy Howl at Georgetown University  – Because the movie “The Exorcist” was filmed in part on campus – and the author is a Georgetown alum – each year it is shown on campus after dark on Halloween and afterward, students gather in a cemetery on campus, near Healy Hall, and howl at the moon.

Polar Bear Swims at Dartmouth College During Winter Carnival every February, students don bathing suits and jump into the freezing Occom Pond, through an opening drilled in the ice by friendly school facilities folks. Just to make sure everybody makes it out of the pond, a rope is tied around the waist of every jumper – and paramedics are around just in case.

4th Year Fifth at the University of Virginia – At U-Va., seniors are fourth years, and during the last home football game, before kickoff, some of them drink a 5th of alcohol. That’s about 17 shots.

Cadet vs. Civilian Snowball Fight at Virginia Tech – This takes place every year after the first snowfall.  Here’s what happened last January:

And then there was the famous Naked Quad Run at Tufts Unviersity in Somerville, Mass., which was just what it sounded like: Naked students running around the Rez Quad several times on the night of the final day of fall semester classes in December, with refreshments provided by the university. That school stopped it a few years ago.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss · November 4, 2013