Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Traditions Night stirs spirit for new Jayhawk students

August 20, 2002

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The fall semester at Kansas University doesn't officially begin until Thursday, but class was in session Monday night at Memorial Stadium.

The subject matter included Jayhawks, Rock Chalk chants, fight songs and ceremonial treks down Campanile hill.

For several thousand KU students  mostly wide-eyed freshmen  the annual Traditions Night marked their first public appearances as real Jayhawks.

So what if they clapped out of sync during the fight song and flubbed the words of the alma mater? They'll have their entire college careers  four years, often more  to get it right.

"It has history, and it's up to us to keep it up," said Orianiz Medina, a Topeka freshman. "If the tradition dies, then KU dies."

Richard Johnson, dean of students and a former rival Missouri Tiger, led the students in learning the words to "I'm a Jayhawk" and helped them learn when to clap.

"I thought the clapping was hard," said Scott Southern, a Springfield, Mo., freshman. But, he admitted, he was slightly distracted by another KU tradition  the cheerleaders.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway said KU's heritage would help students feel connected during their time at KU.

"We want you to feel KU is your home away from home," he said.

James Carothers, interim associate provost, told the students about some of the lesser-known KU traditions. Freshmen were once forced to wear beanies. Seniors and freshmen squared away for an annual tug-of-war match across Potter Lake.

Those traditions have died away, he said. But, he said, it will be up to the new generation of Jayhawks to decide traditions for the future.

"These are your traditions now," he said.

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