Home > Brown Stories > Traditions Old & New
< Back to Brown Stories

Brown cherishes its time-honored traditions: the Commencement procession, Campus Dance, opening the Van Wickle gates at Convocation and Commencement, Josiah Carberry Day. At the same time, we openly embrace change and new traditions as well.

Women of Brown no longer twine a May Pole and a live bear no longer serves as the University’s team mascot. Yet these traditions are remembered while new ritualslike the “shopping period” in the first weeks of every semester, night football games played under the lights, and a solemn ceremony to commemorate Veteran’s Daycreate community and continuity, reminding us that wherever we fit at Brown, we are part of a long and proud history.

Many traditions were swept away as Brown grew from a small college educating a narrow slice of the population to a diverse and international hub of scholarship and research. Others evolved more subtly.  This milestone in our history offers us an opportunity to look back on past social, academic, athletic and community traditions, to acknowledge traditions we are building today, and to imagine what traditions will endure well into the future?

A Seat at the Table

Like so many good ideas, this one hatched over food. Around the turn of the twentieth century, a small group of Providence professionals and business leaders, who also happened to be Brown alumni, were in the habit of...

A Unique Experiment

Two mushroom clouds filled the air of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The atom bombs had exploded, and these cities were destroyed. The terrible sounds of war at last grew silent, and the jungle rot, the Bataan death march...

Campus Dance

A familiar space magically transformed. A sense of anticipation. A feeling of closure. Becoming part of a long history. Revisiting one’s youth. A multi-generational gathering. Music. Singing. Dancing. Leaving. Returning....