While there are many new and old, official and unofficial traditions carried on by students, faculty, and staff every year, some of the most long-standing college-sponsored traditions include:
The bells in Main Building’s tower are rung to announce dinner every night, on the arrival of the first snowflakes and other special events. Alumni often request them rung in honor of a wedding, birth of a child or other momentous life occasion. The Bell Ringer songbook is passed on between generations.
Caps and Gowns
Seniors wear academic gowns on the first and last day of the academic year, at champagne breakfast, convocations, Odd/Even game and sing-off (coaches/song leaders only), Senior Roast, and at Moving Up Day.
Opening Convocation celebrates the beginning of the academic year and the formal introduction of the new incoming class. A traditional part of this convocation is the candlelight ceremony. Symbolized by a candle flame, the spirit of the Wells connection is passed from alumni to students, signifying the support that Wells students give one another throughout their lives.
Lake Freezes Over
Should Cayuga Lake freeze over, no classes are held that day and a formal holiday pronouncement is made.
May Day is a ceremony organized by the first-year class and May Queen to celebrate the “Royal Senior Court.” The College held its first official May Day celebration in 1923. Held on or near May 1, the ceremony includes announcing and crowning the Senior Royalties and the Junior May Queen, King, or Royalty. Elected by the junior class, the Junior May Royalty is crowned by their senior predecessor at the May Day celebration. During the senior year, the May Royalty is charged with helping the first-year class to organize the event. During the celebration, poetry is read, songs are sung and the first-year student dancers, dressed in appropriately themed dress, perform a dance while wrapping the maypole. Students who dance their first year are then eligible to be crowned May Royalty their junior year or be on the court their senior year.
Outside of Main, the College’s first building, sits the lovely statue of the Roman goddess Minerva. Symbolizing wisdom, craft, wit and intellect, the senior class decorates Minerva at the beginning of the fall semester. Minerva remains decorated throughout the school year. During the morning of the last day of classes, after singing around the Sycamore tree, the senior class takes turns kissing the feet of Minerva and leaving a Rose to bring good luck, success and prosperity to all graduating seniors.
Moving Up Day
Each spring the senior class promotes students to the next class year. This all-student occasion organized by the senior class includes skits, songs, jokes and the pinning of the juniors with college pins. This tradition has recently been split in two with a Senior Roast happening the Thursday before the last day of classes. At this event seniors put on skits, sing songs, and tell jokes about underclassman. On the last day of classes Seniors gather students around the Sycamore where songs are sung, Sophomores give seniors roses, and juniors are pinned.
The first Odd/Even game was played in 1898. Upon entering, first-year students belong to one of two traditional lines. The Evenline, whose colors are blue and green, consists of students who graduate in even-numbered years. The Oddline, whose colors are purple and yellow, consists of students who graduate in odd-numbered years. Each line has its own mascot. For women, the Evens have Cleo the elephant, and Odds have Oddwina the bear. During the first week of this tradition, tryouts take place and teams are selected. Each team then chooses song leaders, who prepare the teams for the sing-off competition the day before the game. The song leaders supervise the creation of the class banners and writing of the class song. After two weeks of practice and songs in the dining hall, the first-year and sophomore teams meet in the dining hall for a sing-off and the next day they meet for the famed game. Regardless of which team wins, there is plenty of enthusiasm, and valued memories are once again added to this longstanding tradition.
The first men’s Odd/Even dodge ball game was played in February 2008. Like the longstanding women’s tradition, the colors are the same, and players consist of members of the first year and sophomore classes, who are coached by members of the junior and senior classes to play a dodgeball game on Saturday night. The Friday night before the game, the men’s teams have a dance-off similar to the women’s sing-off. The men’s Evenline mascot is Clyde the elephant, and the Oddline mascot is the Oddlion. Men’s Odd/Even occurs during the spring as a celebration of the longstanding and famed Odd/Even tradition.
Each semester, members of the upper classes may order the traditional onyx-and-gold Wells College ring. The ring symbolizes the memories that Wells provides. Modeled after Henry Wells’ own signet ring, it was originally gold with black onyx. Students also have the option, however, of having their ring made in silver.
In November, students and their guests participate in an elegant soiree with the chance to dress in formal attire and enjoy a candlelit dinner. Following dinner, a performance by one of the singing groups and a dance is held.
When a Wells student deserves special recognition for an election, birthday or other accomplishment, friends will often sing the “Wells Congratulation Song”:
Oh (name of student) we sing to you
You are so good and true
We’ll all be loyal to you
We’ll raise your name
And praise you, too
And so we sing to dear Wells and you, hey!
First-years and juniors are each other’s “sister class,” while sophomores and seniors are the other pair of sister classes. They traditionally support each other and have several bonding opportunities throughout the year. These include Odd/Even, May Day, Junior Stunt and other traditions.
Held in late April, Spring Weekend is a chance for students to have fun and unwind before finals begin.
Tea and coffee are served every Wednesday afternoon. Though the long dresses and china cups are gone, this break from afternoon seminars is still a great time to get together with friends and professors.
To celebrate the holiday spirit that sweeps through campus each winter, the Traditions Committee organizes a holiday show for the community to enjoy. Village residents and their children, students, faculty and staff engage in the activities that take place on the first Monday night of December. The main attractions of the night are holiday skits put on by students, resident advisors and administrators. Seniors try to remember and re-create their first-year skit, and the new students work the crowd by performing theirs.
Welcome Back Dance
Held on the first weekend after the start of classes, the welcome back dance is a chance for students to meet, mingle, see old friends and ring in the new school year.
Members of the Wells community are always excited to talk about our traditions. If you want to know more, ask an admissions representative or pay us a visit!