Tech traditions

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

Leaving home for the first time and going to college is the beginning of a new era for many students. As a freshman, you must adjust to living in a new environment while meeting new people and learning new rules. This time of your life will undoubtedly leave you with lifelong memories, including the many on-campus activities and traditions that take place for freshmen.  

One of the more unique freshman traditions is known as the Recently Acquired Tech student (RAT) cap. Originally introduced to campus over a century ago in 1915, this cap was used to mark freshman students. The mandate used to be that all freshmen should wear their RAT caps until the end of the year unless Tech beat the Georgia football team at the Thanksgiving weekend game. 

Punishments were carried out by upperclassmen towards any freshman who did not follow these rules, but anti-hazing laws have since changed this part of the tradition. Still, RAT caps are handed out to all first-year students at the annual commencement ceremony and are decorated accordingly. 

The freshman cake race  dates back even further; the inaugural race occurred in 1911. Held on the day of the Homecoming game, the sounds of the marching band wake the freshmen up before sunrise to compete in what is now a half-mile race to possibly win a cake and recognition on the field during halftime. 

Originally, it was created to scout possible members for the school track and field team. Since then, it has become a long-standing and beloved tradition in which anyone is welcome to participate in and receive a cupcake at the end!

To get students better accustomed to their new environment before the hustle and bustle of the school year, Tech hosts a “Week of Welcome” for its incoming freshmen. Students are able to move in and get better acquainted with each other before  campus is filled with upperclassmen.

Various events are hosted throughout the week to boost spirits for the upcoming school year and engage the new students with each other and campus culture. It also gives first-year students the ability to familiarize with the facilities at Tech and even explore downtown. This year, Week of Welcome takes place from Aug. 15-20. 

The Tech fight song called “Ramblin Wreck from Georgia Tech” was first printed with lyrics in 1908 and is an adaptation from an old English drinking song. It is commonly played throughout various sporting games, most commonly after a touchdown in football. Although the official lyrics have not changed since its premiere, most students now sing a revised version of the second line in the second stanza, “cheer the brave and bold” to “to raise the ratio”. There have also been various add-ons at the end of the song throughout the generations of Tech students. 

If you are interested in being more involved with campus traditions and organizing events, consider joining the Ramblin’ Reck Club, a student organization that focuses on promoting and preserving Tech traditions. More information about the club can be found at