Opinion

UM traditions go beyond color

Last Friday, our campus celebrated Orange Festival, the spring celebration of everything we love about UM, under the unifying banner of orange. It’s a grand celebration of our deeply held traditions, dating all the way back to 2013.

Forgive me for not minding that I skipped it.

I come from a proud family of Miami Hurricanes and know it’s great to be one. But why all this pretense about tradition? For myself and the thousands of other students who missed the festival, it was an artificial effort to spread a free T-shirt at best – and apathy at worst.

Junior Claire Kebodeaux, one of the Orange Festival co-chairs, explained that the festival is about everything orange, “the color, the food, the tradition.” She said that it encouraged people to “learn about the history of the U.”

Is the color orange really what binds our school in unity? Must we reflect so deeply on school colors and these supposed ‘traditions’?

I grew up learning about Julia Tuttle, the founder of Miami, and her oranges. According to legend, she sent fresh orange blossoms to Henry Flagler, the railroad magnate, in the middle of a deep winter freeze. He knew then that his railroad had to come this far south, and the city of Miami was born.

But beyond that, it’s only a color.

What’s the point of a tradition? We hold up symbols, not for their symbolic sake alone, but for the ideas on which they rest.

Greek Life carries Greek letters because it harkens back to classical ideals of scholarship and character. Iron Arrow wears the jackets of the Seminole Tribe to carry on the legacy of Seminole warriors from people who knew their land and were proud leaders of it.

Our athletics are about swagger, and a specifically bold expectation of winning. The Federation of Cuban Students and Association of Commuter Students were hallmarks of a predominantly commuter, Cuban student body, for much of the late 20th century. Even Fun Day and the other newer service days, some of UM’s best traditions, are about connecting the students to their community through service.

But for many students, Orange Festival’s emphasis on tradition matters little on such a young campus. Beyond the few examples above, there just aren’t that many great legacies. So many institutions, like the Butler Center or the Student Activities Center, are relatively newborn by collegiate standards.

Our architecture is less gothic and ivy and more glass and steel.

It’s ironic that Orange Festival was made to explain “traditions,” but instead only demonstrates how little they mean to students.

Indeed, when I think of UM’s greatest strength, it is not our history, but our youth. So why synthesize a tradition simply for the sake of tradition? The school has been so good for such a short amount of time that students can create their own organic legacies and institutions, unburdened by the work of those who came before.

This beats a free T-shirt any day of the week.

Patrick Quinlan is a junior majoring in international studies and political science.

March 1, 2015

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Patrick Quinlan


7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “UM traditions go beyond color”

  1. willy says:

    I’ll repost what I put on facebook in semi-agreement with this article.

    “Part of the issue with tradition at UM is that UM is very consciously and explicitly reinventing itself. Witness the constant mentions of how we’re rising in rankings, the new buildings we’re constructing, the research UM is conducting, etc.

    From SunshineU to a school in the top 50 universities in the US, there’s bound to be a ton of institutional memories and traditions that we have to leave behind. And that’s painful, and it accounts for the disconnect or sterility some students feel at UM, with its relative lack of a tradition of excellence. But it’s probably a necessary part of drastic institutional change.

    So Orange Festival is kinda working against a more fundamental change at UM’s culture. Until we plateau in our growth (maybe Shalala’s successor will focus on consolidation rather than growth?) UM’s traditions will suffer and seem inauthentic.”

    I like the idea of the orange festival, the conscious recollection of tradition, but it didn’t feel authentic to me. Maybe after a couple of years of consolidation at Miami it will be more genuine.

  2. Tori says:

    How is this article approved to be published? Coming from a family of Miami Hurricanes, (4th generation Cane) I was brought up loving the orange and green. First of all its not just a color. You say you come from a family of Hurricanes then you should know that the U is filled with tradition. I can start off with saying why the reason that our colors are orange and green–before we became known as the University of Miami Hurricanes the current president of the university wanted to be known as the University of Miami Orange Blossoms but after common sense hit and they decided to be known as the UMiami ‘Hurricanes’ (that and we got hit by a Hurricane in 1925 but since you came from a family of Miami Canes you probably know that) Orange represents so much more than a color to the Canesfam and our traditions. Have you forgotten our beloved ORANGE BOWL? The home of our Canes before No-Life Stadium…the Orange Bowl where the University of Miami created a majority of it traditions that are seen not only with our school but Nation wide? Four fingers during the fourth quarter, the smoke, the “U gotta” believe slogan in the 80s that soon developed into how we identify ourselves….as the U? but I guess those aren’t considered traditions since we are such a young school and our youth is what makes us so great. How can you write this article and mock our traditions. the color orange brings back our beloved Orange Bowl and all the traditions that were formed there. I could go on and on about our traditions but I think just stating the Orange Bowl should be enough to why the color Orange represents more than just a color to our university.

  3. Rick says:

    Glad to see the Miami Hurricane supporting the next generation of assholes hiding behind their keyboards. It’s an opinion piece about an event, just like this response is an opinion about this article. I put the effort in to read the article before dragging it through the mud, you should have attended Orange Festival before throwing this together like a Facebook rant at 2am and doing the same.

  4. Doug says:

    I think Orange Fest is a great event and the fact that someone who didn’t even GO to the event was allowed to have an article criticizing the event published just further accentuates the Hurricane’s lack of journalistic credibility. Disagree with the author but more disappointed (again) in the Hurricane.

  5. AJ Ricketts says:

    A truly disappointing article. Of all the things to take a cheap shot at, it’s Orange Festival, put on by some of the most spirited and hard working students on campus?

    The University of Miami is nearly 100 years old. It does not run on any premise of ‘color’ being the only thing that binds the school together, that expresses tradition. Maybe if you delved a little deeper into the history of the school, instead of looking at a list of SAC hallway organizations, you would realize that hey, there’s so much amazing history at this university, and wow, people are here to spread that message!

    There is nothing artificial about the work Orange Fest organizers put in or their pride for Miami. However, there’s blatant condescension towards them in this article, and as someone who works for this publication, I am disappointed to see something this shallow in nature, particularly from someone who has expressed fine, intellectual views on a variety of topics in the past. But it should not surprise me – as the author is the type of person who during Miami’s 14 game baseball winning streak last year, found reason to instead focus and mock a small number of UM baseball alums who were caught in scandal, instead of joining in on the excitement of the current season.

    The premise of spreading tradition and history – a noble goal of Orange Festival, and well done. I’ll take a t-shirt on the side too, but even if not, it’s a shared memory with friends. Maybe the author should head out next time, instead of writing commentaries about the most trivial of gripes.

  6. Jason says:

    Is this article satire?

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I personally think Orange Fest is a great event and the people that put in on work extremely hard and deserve more respect than this article suggests.

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