Though St Andrews boasts 280 years on William and Mary, these two schools both hold several beloved traditions.
William and Mary
The College begins the fall semester with the convocation of the freshmen on the first day of classes. All freshmen and first years at William and Mary come together on the Colonial Williamsburg side of the Wren building to listen to speakers and ever frisky President Reveley speak about their upcoming years at the college. Then all students will pass through the building to the other side where upperclassmen are waiting, lined up to give high fives and cheers.
Students celebrate the fall semester and school pride a bit differently with Homecoming! This is a time for alumni to flock back to the ‘burg and tailgate, watch parades, and attend football games to their heart’s delight. The highlights of Homecoming weekend are the glorious William and Mary Choir singing on Friday night, the parade on Saturday morning, and the football games on Saturday afternoon. This is just a time for everyone to remember why he or she loves William and Mary so (as well as to wear as much green and yellow as humanly possible).
King and Queens Ball:
William and Mary’s big one is King and Queen’s ball and to answer your question, yes, you are more than welcome to come fully decked in your best colonial dressage (though most don’t, unfortunately).
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…. when President Reveley dresses up as Santa and reads How the Grinch Stole Christmas to students. In the middle of December, everyone gathers round the Sunken Gardens side of the Wren building and watches The Gentlemen (the best men’s a capella group) perform; students talk about Christmas time in different cultures, and await the President. At the end, students can walk through the hall of the Wren building to throw a sprig of holly into the fire for good fortune in the next year! There is always a sense of family and comfort in the air as students meander over to relax during the hectic weeks before finals.
This is what happens on the last day of classes each semester (more so second semester, though). Students will celebrate the end of the semester with partying, drinking, and having fun across campus. Be sure to do this safely for there are always tourists around and police patrolling on this day.
Ringing the Bell:
Around the same time as blowout, seniors and students taking their last semester at William and Mary will line up and ring the bell in the Wren building after their last class. The bell will be tolling all week long, so be sure not to walk by the building and listen!
CW (as it’s affectionately known as) is a fantastic thing. Students at the college can get a free 4-year pass to visit all the colonial buildings (take them up on this offer, it is so fascinating!) and every winter, CW gets decked out in Christmas lights, wreaths, and garlands, and there are fireworks celebrating the start of the Christmas season.
Crim Dell Bridge:
So, the tale is that if you walk across this bridge with your significant other, you will be together forever – same idea if you walk across it with your best friends. BUT if you wish to break up with your partner, you must both walk to the middle of the bridge and push the other in the water to *officially* break up, so be careful who you walk across this bridge with. Make sure you don’t go across alone, though, as you will (according to the myth) be alone forever!
One of the must-do things at William and Mary:
- Swim in the Crim Dell
- Streak across the Sunken Gardens
- Jump the Governor’s Palace Wall (shown above)
Some students take on the challenge and do all three things over their course at William and Mary, while others just do one (usually the Palace Wall). Whatever your boldness level, be sure to do at least one while at William and Mary!
More detailed info on W&M traditions:
Later on in the semester, University of St Andrews students experience Raisin, an event like no other where students will attempt to do some wild things, such as taking a dip in the freezing cold North Sea at Astronomical Twilight.* Raisin is a time for students to get together with their mum and dad, their academic parents, and celebrate the semester, with plenty of alcohol (and those who don’t drink can still have fun!). On Monday, the children will go to their mum’s place where she will dress them up in hilarious costumes (evolution of Shia LaBeouf? the cast of bridesmaids with the bride as the one guy?) and send them on their merry way to join in the shaving foam fight on the lawn next to the Quad. (The two people in the forefront of this photo are WaMStAs!)
*For those that are so eager to know, this year (2016), Astronomical Twilight on the day of Raisin (16 October) was 5:49 am
St Andrews sponsors just a few more balls than William and Mary. The main few are Hall Ball – where your Hall (dorm) dances the night away together, Fall Ball – where the school (mainly freshmen) celebrates the fall semester, Christmas Ball – where the school parties through the night in the cold weather (highly recommend this ball out of the four), and May Ball – another ball for the school that rings in the end of a school year. Thankfully, students don’t have to queue for Christmas Ball anymore as they’re online now!
The May Dip is a chance to show off your absurd idiocy bravery. On May 1, people gather together at East Sands and run into the freezing cold North Sea, promptly sprinting back out to grab blankets and hot chocolate!
Similar to ringing the bell in the Wren building, this is something 4th years and students spending their last year at St Andrews will celebrate: a bucket of water straight to the face. After the 4th year’s last exam, all of their friends wait outside and soak them with water when they exit the building – all done out of love, of course.
Pier Walks/Pier Jumps:
These are not for the faint-hearted but they are one of the most thrilling things you’ll do at St Andrews. For the pier walk, students would traditionally attend the church service at St. Salvator’s Chapel then afterwards process (in their red gowns) down to the pier and walk back on the high ledge. Nowadays, students mainly just meet up at noon in the quad and process down (still in the red gowns), clutching their gowns while the wind whips about! The pier jumps are exactly what they sound like: jumping off the pier into the North Sea. **Please be sure to do this at high tide, as there are rocks right next to the pier. This event can be done whenever: at the end of a semester, when you’re feeling like you’re on top of the world, whenever!
There is a PH on the ground outside St. Salvator’s Chapel. Do not step on it. I repeat, do not step on it. This is the spot were 24 year-old Patrick Hamilton was burned (or in more accurate terms because it took him 6 hours to die, thank you very much to my history professor who told us this – roasted) to death for supporting Presbyterianism in a time when the Catholics were condemning the Kirk and Presbyterians. The rumor is that if you step on the PH, you will fail your finals, unless you take the May Dip!
A free society! Yes! All students at St Andrews are automatically members. These debates range from serious to *not quite* so serious. For instance, a debate this past semester was on whether Voldemort was misunderstood – a quite controversial topic, actually. People can dress up in costume or with their red robes and the arguments are extremely witty. Also, there is always a prize for the best audience argument at the way end!
For more detailed information on St Andrews traditions: