New KU students learn age-old traditions

Thousands of new Kansas University students clapped, cheered and chanted Saturday night in Memorial Stadium.

There was no football game, though — it was Traditions Night.

The yearly Hawk Week event is just one of many that helps new Jayhawks acclimate to the social, academic and sports scenes at the university. Fledgling students learned the history behind the Rock Chalk Chant, mastered the timing behind the ever-difficult fight song clapping and joined together in singing, or at least reading, the alma mater.

Lenexa freshman Connor Bowman said he attended the event for its social implications within his residence hall. Though familiar with some of the university traditions, Bowman wanted to make sure he wasn’t left behind.

“I think it’ll be good to find things out earlier rather than later,” he said.

Those in attendance Saturday also heard from KU coaches Turner Gill and Bill Self, who stressed the importance of tradition and making the most out of the college experience. Self went so far as to say he wouldn’t mind trading places with any of the new students.

Big Jay and Baby Jay also joined in the festivities, drawing laughs and even some cat calls from the crowd. When it came down to it, the night was all about the history and culture that’s been crafted over the years at the school.

Linguistics professor Allard Jongman sat in the stadium Saturday night, proud of the work KU has done.

“I think a lot of people take these things for granted,” Jongman said. “It’s very hard to build them up. It takes many, many years.”

After the wheat was waved and the chalk was rocked, the new students filed out of the stadium, the entirety of their college careers ahead of them.

“I’m very set,” Bowman said.