Nontraditionally traditional: customs distinguish the student experience at the College


Welcome, 2016 TWAMPS, to the College of William and Mary and all its idiosyncrasies. After 319 years of student life, it is no wonder that the College has picked up a few traditions along the way.

In case you did not already know, you are hereby a TWAMP, or a Typical William and Mary Person. Learn to love the stereotype along with all its connotations, because the word will follow you for the next four years.

But being a TWAMP does not just mean slaving away in Earl Gregg Swem Library. It also describes a person who dives headfirst into student life at the College and embraces all its traditions with open arms. You are going to hear it a lot this year, but welcome to the Tribe. Now, it’s time to embrace your inner TWAMP.


On the first day of classes, you and your 1,473 new best friends will walk through the Sir Christopher Wren Building together and officially become members of the William and Mary Tribe. At your senior commencement, you will repeat the exercise in reverse.

“I had no idea what it was before I went to Convocation, but my favorite part was shaking President Reveley’s hand, then seeing the crowd cheering for everyone,” Mark Moran ’14 said.

Years later, you will remember this day fondly, so do not sleep through the speeches.


Sometime during your first few years (or days) at the College, some friends will cajole you into competing in the infamous College “triathlon.” This may sound like an ordinary athletic event, but that is far from the truth. Yes, you will ascend steep hills, swim through murky waters and run for your life like any other triathlete. But in reality, it’s just a jump over the wall of the Governor’s Mansion, a swim in the Crim Dell and a wild streak through the Sunken Garden.

“My first time on triathlon, one of the RAs from my hall took us out during orientation to jump the wall. We all freaked out because we saw a flashlight and thought it was a cop, but in retrospect, I’m pretty sure it was just a light reflecting in the waves of the pond.” Ethan Blonder ’15 said. “It was a fun night, and a lot of the memories that came from the trip ended up being big hall jokes the rest of the year.”

If you are intrepid enough to do all three of these tasks in your birthday suit on one night, you will honorably have completed “the iron man.” Godspeed, my freshman friend.


Homecoming weekend is a pretty standard event: football, a parade, some alumni tailgates and loads of Tribe Pride.

“Homecoming in general was really cool because it’s nice to see how much the alumni still care about the school,” Lisa Williams ’15 said. “I loved seeing my mom hang out with her old college friends and introducing her to all of my new college friends. So many families are so deeply attached to the college and I think that really speaks volumes about how great the atmosphere is.”

If you’re Greek, ride in the parade with your chapter. If not, link up with your freshman hall or favorite club, make a banner or float and hop right on in.

At the Homecoming game, the opposing football team serves more as a sacrificial lamb than an actual opponent (can’t lose on our own turf at Homecoming) and the stands will be a wild cry of green, gold and trumpets. Bring some friends, get there early, get dressed up and, most importantly, get excited.

Yule Log

Few college students boast that the president of their school has read them a bedtime story. But, thanks to the stylings of President Taylor Reveley, all students at the College can claim such an experience as their own.

“Reveley gets my heart racing in a Santa suit just as much as he does in any other suit,” Katherine Fegley ’14 said. “But the Yule Log ceremony itself is a fun way to almost get trampled by your fellow students who are yelling inspirational ‘Lord of the Rings’ speeches all around you. There is nothing like riding the wave of students rushing to the Wren Building. My feet barely touched the ground.”

After the infamous reading of the poem, “’Twas the Night before Finals,” members of the College community throw a sprig of holly onto the Yule Log fire. Many TWAMPs wish for good grades on their finals the coming Monday, but I’d suggest something more practical. Why not try asking for a lifetime supply of Wawa macaroni and cheese?

Campus Golf

Part costumed outdoor dance party, part golf tournament, part philanthropy event and all parts ridiculous, Kappa Delta Campus Golf has become a College favorite. The sorority’s annual philanthropy attracts thousands of students and raises money for Avalon women’s shelter. Foursomes flock to the Sunken Garden in crazy outfits, ready for a day of shenanigans.

“It’s a lot of work, planning and working with the administration, but seeing people the day of having so much fun and seeing the looks on the faces of the women at Avalon makes it totally worth it. All the hard work pays off and it’s definitely the best day of the year,” Kappa Delta Campus Golf coordinator Molly Adair ’14 said.

Charter Day

The celebration of the day the College received its charter from our royal English founders may be the College’s lamest tradition. But just go hear the speech, feel some Tribe Pride and eat green and gold sugar cookies at the Caf with your hall mates. Trust me when I say it’s worth it. Because when you look back on your experience at the College, it’s the optional speeches you’ll remember, right?


The last day of classes brings with it not only a mix of stress for upcoming finals but also a complete lack of motivation to study. Celebrations begin early and continue all day, as the Sunken Garden plays host to an afternoon-long party.

Your professors will encourage you to refrain from the festivities until after classes end for the day, and you should listen to them. No one wants to be that kid in a dinosaur costume being chased out of a Biology lecture. Trust us on this one.

Now, go carry on the College’s 319-year-old traditions and even create some of your own. Most importantly, enjoy every second because the years fly by here at our colonial college.  Bon Voyage.



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