Homecoming Week celebrates the proudest UM traditions, such as the Alma Mater, Iron Arrow and the Hurricane Howl canoe burning.
The celebrations culminate with Alumni Weekend, when past Canes reunite with old friends, enjoy a football game and be baffled by the new construction around campus. While many enjoy the flagship events, the focus on our few well-known traditions also highlights the lack of tradition at UM. This campus has never stopped changing, growing and reinventing itself since the day it was born.
Originally envisioned as a traditional, ornately designed campus, the university has rarely kept still since the Great Miami Hurricane in 1926. Departments, schools and campuses were gradually added. Even today, we see that there are new committees, departments and staffs being created around campus to figure out how to best govern a campus of 10,000 undergraduates. For 90 years, what we now know as the “U” has still been building its reputation as an academic institution and molding its identity as a student body – and athletic force. Because of all of this movement and change, the university is still rooting its traditions.
Some students feel that many school traditions are advertised to create an artificial form of school spirit. School myths and traditions that no one knows about, such as the “cursed” school seal outside of the Campus Store or the spirit tree outside of Ashe, seem to only be kept alive by P100s, Orientation and Homecoming.
While many universities inflate the importance of school quirks to make themselves stand out to prospective applicants, students may feel deceived when they arrive on UM’s campus.
Our history simply is not as rich as that of larger state schools or Ivy Leagues, and for good reason. We are still young. The traditions that will last in the years to come will be the ones that are organic, original and interesting, not simply those invented for the sake of tradition.
While groups like Cat 5 and the Orientation Committee do their best to keep tradition alive, a sustainable tradition has to be facilitated through less “authoritative” figures – from peer to peer. The success of our football traditions results from our incredible legacy and the genuine excitement our students have about winning games.
The university is also affected by its community. Miami itself is modern, superficial and transient. Miami still hasn’t circled back to the point of cherishing tradition and convention, and it may never. Somehow, these characteristics of the surrounding environment may shape the way students perceive their college experience.
Authentic traditions will grow only with time. With each additional class of Miami Hurricanes, our self-awareness as a community will grow and we will find more ways to take ownership of this legacy. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the free tee shirts.
Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.