I went to an all-girls high school founded in 1874, the oldest school in Dallas, TX. When I talked to different generations of alumnae from my school, we would talk about our shared experience with our favorite traditions—the Snowball Dance, Intramurals interclass competition, and the Junior Ring Ceremony.
I absolutely loved that I was connected to hundreds of women around the world through my school’s traditions, and I wanted that experience in college as well. I hoped to be a part of traditions that were treasured from generation to generation, linking the community together.
Emory University had traditions that excited me as a prospective student. I couldn’t wait to meet Dooley, stroll around the Farmer’s Market on a Tuesday afternoon, and listen to my friends sing a capella at First Friday, an event showcasing each a capella group held on the first Friday of every month!
For prospective students who also look for a university with exciting traditions, here are my top five favorite traditions at Emory University.
This tradition started when we had the quarter system, which gave students the day off on Wednesdays. The students thought, “What should we do with this free day in our week?” Host a massive party to celebrate Emory spirit in the middle of campus, of course! So the students would line Asbury Circle with tables every Wednesday and advertise for club events, enjoy free food together, and come together as a community.
However, when we switched to the semester system, we had classes on Wednesday. At first, we kissed the tradition goodbye with the largest non-alcoholic toast in history—with Coca-Cola products, a very Emory twist.
But the students missed our Wednesday celebration, so they decided to reinstate the tradition despite having classes on Wednesdays! Now every single Wednesday afternoon, you can find our Wonderful Wednesday celebration in the middle of campus.
On an average Wonderful Wednesday, expect T-Shirts in the air, baked goods, and lots of music. On a crazy Wonderful Wednesday, expect camels, puppies, ball-pits, swimming pools, food trucks, and horse-drawn carriage rides!
Our unofficial school mascot, Dooley, began in the pages of our first school magazine, The Phoenix. (The magazine was written in blue ink on gold paper, which is how we found our colors!) In the satiric article, Dooley began as a skeleton in the back of a biology classroom, noting who was goofing off in class, answering all the questions, and talking during class.
He was essentially the original Gossip Girl.
The students loved the character and began dressing up as the skeleton at school events.
Soon we had an entire week dedicated to celebrating this quirky mascot, Dooley’s Week!
Every spring, Emory comes together for a week of crazy activities and lots of fun through Dooley’s Week. Last spring’s theme was Dooley’s Island, so we had tropical drinks, free luau food, and a huge sandpit in the middle of campus! This spring’s theme was Dooleywood! We invited comedians from around the country to perform and ended the week with a huge concert on McDonough Field!
Dooley makes appearances throughout Dooley’s Week, especially through his classroom visits. If students write Dooley a limerick about their class that Dooley finds clever, he may enter the classroom and ask the professor a difficult piece of Emory trivia. If the professor doesn’t know the answer (which is generally the case), the WHOLE class gets let out—even if you had a test or quiz that day!
Fun fact: Dooley used to also squirt the professor with water guns when they got the question wrong, but many professors wear really nice suits, so this part of the tradition has ended.
Songfest is the ultimate inter-residence-hall competition on campus. Every summer, the Residence Advisors and Sophomore Advisors for each of the first-year residence halls get together to plan a song and dance to prepare for Songfest. The song lyrics playfully tell everyone on campus why their hall is the best, while simultaneously picking fun at the other halls.
For example, Longstreet-Means Hall might comment on its huge stone fireplace, and Alabama Hall might comment on its marble exterior and location in the middle of campus.
The first-year students of every hall learn their song and dance during Orientation and compete to win eternal bragging rights during Songfest!
President Jimmy Carter Town Hall
Every fall, the first-year students get to meet President Jimmy Carter during Orientation! As he was once a professor at Emory, President Carter has been celebrated as a member of our community of scholars for years.
After President Carter presents a speech, students can ask him any question they want. He has kept his promise to answer any question he receives, including his favorite ice cream flavor, boxers or briefs, and questions tied more directly to his presidency.
As President Carter has grown older, and is also now a cancer survivor (thanks to the care he received at Emory University Hospital right on campus) the Emory community has learned to treasure this opportunity to speak to a national leader more and more.
Tuesday Farmers Market
Every Tuesday afternoon, vendors from around Atlanta line Cox Hall Bridge to offer students homemade treats. Students can use their meal plans, cash, or credit card to purchase Blue Donkey coffee, homemade kettle corn, homemade tamales, locally-made fresh doughnuts, pulled pork sandwiches, fresh bread, locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables, and so much more!
I have been a loyal customer to the tamale family ever since my very first Tuesday on campus! I order their chicken and cheese tamales on my way to class.
I only touched on my five favorite traditions at Emory, but my original list expanded well past a dozen Emory traditions that I hold close to my heart. If you love celebrating traditions that link the community together and foster quirky, campus-wide memories, consider touring Emory to learn about more! With over 100 years of history, we’re bound to offer a tradition that you’ll love!
Katie Frisbie, 18C
Political Science and Interdisciplinary
Thanks @emoryuniversity for the great pictures!