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History of William Smith College

William Smith Traditions

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The Coordinate Tradition

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William Smith Time Capsule

William Smith Traditions

Each generation of William Smith women has its own traditions, some lasting a year or two, others spanning a decade or more, still others shared with Hobart College. There are some, however, that were started by the William Smith Charter Class that are still in use.

Moving Up Day 2006

Members of the William Smith Class
of 2009 show off their class color,
red, during Moving Up Day.

Founder's Day
Each December, William Smith students celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the deed of gift that establishe William Smith College. The very first Founder’s Day, held in 1908, was attended by none other than William Smith himself. Founder’s Day has happened annually except for a couple of wild and crazy years in the early 1970s.

Class Colors
Every class since 1912 has been assigned a class color. In the early part of the 20th century, classes were also assigned flowers. The Charter Class’ color was yellow and its flower was the chrysanthemum.

Moving-Up Day
Held in the spring, Moving-Up Day ceremonially marks the moment when all classes "move up" as seniors "commence" to graduation and leave their class space to the juniors, the juniors to the sophomores, and the sophomores to the first-years. While processing into the Moving-Up Day ceremony, seniors carry a laurel rope. The Charter Class rolled huge hoops down the Hill to juniors. The hoops were decorated with ribbons representing the colors of the previous classes. When a junior caught the hoop, she tied her own class color ribbon to it. The first junior to catch a hoop was supposed to be the first to be married. The tradition of the hoops continued until the mid-60s. Today, William Smith women process up the Hill with each class carrying a banner.

Mentoring First-Year Students
In the College’s early years, junior Big Sisters were assigned a first-year Little Sister to mentor. As residence halls increased in number, the program was structured by dorms. Today, the organized practice of offering friendship and general advice during the first year is called Sidekicks.

Community Service
It’s been called many things over the years – The Christian Association and Community Chest were some of the earliest names – but every William Smith class has actively participated in some form of community service. Today, The Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning connects students with volunteer opportunities while many students take courses with a service-learning component.

From almost the first day that students stepped on campus in 1908, they have participated in athletics. Today, William Smith boasts one of the best athletic records in the country with 11 sports teams that have won dozens of Division III championships. William Smith was recognized in 2000 as one of the top athletics programs in the nation by Sports Illustrated for Women. In 2006, the Herons were the first college or university to host two NCAA Championships in the same year. Learn more about William Smith Athletics.

Traditions celebrated today
Dean's Dinner
Every Day Is Sundae
Opening Day, celebrates the anniversary of the first time William Smith College opened its doors in September, 1908
Famous Women’s Dinner, students dress in costume as famous women to celebrate the end of Women’s History Month
International Women's Day

Air Band in 1980

Air Band was a popular William
Smith College tradition in the 80s.

Other Traditions that have come and gone…
Banana Day at Lunch (Not Kidding!)
Dances: Senior Ball, Junior Prom, Soph Hop, Sophomore Soiree, Snowball
Main Street Rallye
Fall Nationals
Fall Weekend
Winter Weekend
Folk Fest
Greek Weekend
Air Band
Women’s Music Festival
Indoor Carnival

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