How important are traditions to college life?

Tech has numerous traditions which students participate in every year. For some students, participating has been central to their college experience, but less so for others. // Photo by Taylor Gray Student Publications

With students returning to campus this fall, some of Tech’s favorite traditions have made their return as well.

In Greek life, this includes Run for the Roses, where the newest pledge class of sororities and fraternities learn a song/dance and perform them to each other in exchange for roses. As the Homecoming football game approaches, other traditions will make their annual appearance on campus.

Upperclassmen who have experienced Tech’s traditions before the pandemic reflect on their favorite traditions and their importance to their college experience.

Olivia Gotlib, fifth-year BME student, thinks back on how she celebrated the end of freshman year finals and the start of the summer by playing in the Campanile Fountain with her friends.

Gotlib cherishes the bonds she has made with her friends through traditions at Tech.

“Traditions really bring together the campus community and are something that everyone kinda has in common. Everyone knows you don’t touch the Reck [as a freshman] or like stealing the T,” Gotlib said. “The fact that we have so many and that everyone is so into it makes Tech a very unique place and brings us together.”

However, not everyone shares the same sentiment for certain traditions here at Tech.

“It sucks for the people who have to go and replace the T’s,” said Alice Shen, third-year BA.

“It has become such a bad issue that I think they’ve replaced some of the signs to have the T permanently in there so that people can’t steal it.”

Nevertheless, Shen does have a positive view on other traditions such as leaving a penny on the grave of Sideways the dog, which supposedly brings you good luck on exams.

Pavan Bharadwaj, fifth-year EE, talks about his favorite tradition, the Mini 500, which is an annual tricycle race that usually takes place around Peters Parking Deck and typically occurs on the Friday afternoon before the Homecoming football game.

“You can either go all in or just have fun, and that aligns with my mindset in a lot of the things I do at school,” Bharadwaj said.

“With class I go all out, and then with my friends and all the people I met here, I have a lot of fun too.”

Bharadwaj also talks about the rigorous courses here at Tech.

“There’s a tradition at Tech of a mentality of fighting a little bit for your grades and being able to get a social life with this really hard school,” Bharadwaj said. “That’s lasted more than any tradition here. This school has been kicking people’s asses for over 100 years.”

The challenging academics are no secret at Tech.

Professor Tom Conte, who holds a joint appointment in the Schools of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, has experience at many other institutions, both as a student and a professor.

“The enthusiasm that students have for GT and loyalty they have for GT is stronger than I’ve ever seen at the other places I’ve been at. I’ve come to really appreciate that,” Conte said.

Conte thinks that Tech’s traditions and unity are so strong partly due to the academic rigor.

“Tech is so hard, not needlessly hard,” Conte said.

“We expect a lot from our students, so they might want to share with each other about making it through this really hard curriculum. Traditions are a way to let go of the steam.”

In addition, Conte shares why traditions are important based on his own experiences.

“Where I went, there weren’t many traditions,” Conte said. “When I look at Tech students, I look enviously at the traditions you have. I think it’s important because it ties you to your classmates, helps you understand we’re all in this together, and after you leave Tech, it helps you with that really strong sense of pride that I think all Tech graduates have.”