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Vanderbilt Traditions: Founder's Walk

Posted by on Monday, August 23, 2010 in College Life, Freshman Life, General Information, Greek Life, Student Life, Traditions.

Yesterday was Founders Walk, which is an old Vanderbilt tradition to welcome new first-year and transfer students. The  nearly 2000 walkers trek the outskirts of campus and end up at Wilson Lawn, not before encountering a HUGE crowd of our student groups lining the final stretch, cheering and welcoming everyone to campus.

To be honest, when I asked about what the Founder’s Walk was going to be like when I arrived here on campus last year, I thought it was going to be a pretentious and put-on event, with everyone smiling through their teeth. To my surprise, it was actually a very welcoming tradition; I felt genuinely appreciated and part of the student body when walking through the “tunnel” of cheering campus organizations. Seeing the faces of the walkers yesterday (as a participant in the cheering), I can say the same thing – I didn’t see anybody that was “too cool” for the ceremony. This ceremony is a great way of thwarting initial uneasiness about fitting in here at Vanderbilt, everyone cheering for and welcoming you to campus on the first day you are here. It was at this moment last year that I truly felt like a college student.

Some may say “I don’t want to go to a school where there are a bunch of hokey traditions; that would be uncool.” Well I am the same way – I didn’t want to go to a school like that either. At Vanderbilt there are traditions, but they are very low key and all really cool as well. I mean, where else are you going to find a school that has a move crew designed to move you into your dorm without even having to pick up a box? We do it for you! To me, Vanderbilt has the right amount of community spirit built by traditions, but also the right amount of room for individuality so students don’t feel overwhelmingly consumed by traditions.

The other cool tradition is that of a follow up on Founder’s Walk. Vanderbilt has a tradition that graduates walk out the gates of Vanderbilt (the same ones they entered during Founder’s Walk) after graduation as a way to ceremonially exit the institution. Once again, a tradition that some may deem as cheesy – but many of us regard it as very practical and commemorative in the sense that exiting the gates makes graduation feel very real and all the more poignant. I wish the first-year and transfer students the best of luck settling in and hope to see them around campus soon! To all the prospective students – keep in mind all the rich Vanderbilt traditions that are in store for you!