When you were deciding where to attend college you most likely consumed lots of information about the culture of each university you applied to. You probably heard about how unique of an experience potentially attending each college would be as you went on campus tours, received promotional mail and perused university websites. The special aspects of these student experiences may have come in the form of a long-standing tradition, one-of-a-kind activity, or distinctive campus locale. 

Campus traditions, when truly unique to one college, offer the students of said college a collective experience only they fully understand and share throughout their four years as part of the community. While traditions are not the reason one would ultimately choose a college to attend, they do help to define the experience of each university and its campus community. Unfortunately, I have recently been convinced that Fairfield University lacks any meaningful or objectively unique student traditions. 

Last week, a friend of mine brought this point up in conversation. This friend had recently returned from a trip to England where he visited his friend at Durham University. While there my friend had the opportunity to participate in one of the school’s traditions. The university, which sprawls across a large portion of the town, has numerous bars strewn around its campus for students to enjoy. At one of these bars, there exists a campus tradition in which students, along with their friends, purchase a shot which they will then hold in their mouths as they run across campus to another university bar. The run from one bar to the other is close to a mile in length and is treated as a race between all those holding a shot. Once all the participants have reached the second bar, they down their shots together. My friend who had participated in this tradition recalled how random students they ran past in town were yelling quips towards his group despite not knowing any of the participants. He explained how there was a sense of collective understanding and enjoyment regarding the alcohol-fueled activity amongst the campus community. The student body recognized that the activity was something unique that only their university was able to offer as part of the college experience. 

Through this story, he was able to illustrate his frustrations with the lack of uniquely natural traditions at Fairfield. Some may point to gatherings such as Santacon or Sham Jam as unique campus traditions, but this is far from the truth. These two events are far from unique as many other colleges throughout the country celebrate nearly identical events each year. The same could be said about PresBall or the Spring Concert. The way I see it, the closest thing Fairfield University has to a truly unique and student-body-recognized tradition is riding the Stag Statue. Nearly all students understand and appreciate the sight of a first-year climbing the statue, but is this really the best we have to offer as a campus? Currently, I believe it is. 

This is not to say that I do not enjoy being a part of the Fairfield community, but rather to highlight an aspect of campus culture that, if improved, could drastically enhance the student experience at the school. The remedy seems simple: just introduce some new and unique traditions to campus. 

While this sounds simple, you cannot create a tradition out of nothing. They typically develop organically and are then adopted and popularized by a community over time. If the university came out tomorrow and declared a new campus tradition, I find it hard to believe it would catch on with the students. I believe the most likely scenario for a new tradition to develop is a group of friends doing something absurd around campus, other students seeing it and deciding to imitate said activity. From there it may spread through word of mouth, Fizz, or some other medium. I suppose the job for anyone, including myself, who wishes to see some traditions develop is to try the half-serious ideas that are concocted when shooting the breeze with friends. 

College traditions make a lasting imprint on all those who graduate. Even if some odd activity that you decide to try with your friends does not catch on with the larger campus community, you can at least say you tried to create a unique college experience for yourself and those around you. 

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