These Are the Days

So you may think some of the former campus traditions sound a bit odd. Imagine yourself in years to come telling your friends and family about some of our current traditions.

To start a new college experience, students attend New Student Orientation. This program introduces students to campus experiences, both in and outside the classroom. Having students on campus just prior to the start of the academic year enables faculty and staff to work with small groups of students and their parents to provide more individual attention. During New Student Orientation, students finalize their fall schedule, connect to the campus network, attend faculty-led seminars and all-class events, visit the Student Activities Fair and, most importantly, bond with other new students before classes begin.

Each year, a committee of faculty, staff and students solicits recommendations from the campus community and selects what is called a Common Reading. The selected book is provided to all new students during the summer. In addition to reading the book, students are invited to enter a common book essay contest. The assigned reading is the topic of discussion during New Student Orientation and is used during some fall semester courses.

Recent Common Reading History:
  • Whistling Vivaldi by Claude Steele (2015)
  • Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (2014)
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2013)
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (2012)
  • Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel (2011)
  • Bottlemania by Elizabeth Royte (2010)
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen (2009)
  • The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen (2008)
  • The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler (2007)
  • The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman (2006)
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (2005)

In the 1980s, the campus started the tradition of a university-wide Fall Convocation, a gathering of faculty, students and staff to mark the beginning of the new academic year. The convocation features an address by a notable speaker—often the president—and recognition of significant accomplishments during the prior school year by members of the university community. The author of the Common Reading selection is invited to be the keynote speaker. An informal reception follows.

An excellent opportunity for first-year students to get involved on campus is the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The goal of the ELP is to give first-year students the opportunity to develop a foundation of leadership by providing skills, knowledge and experiences essential for lifelong leadership engagement.

The CCEL Fellows program provides first-year undergraduate students with a service learning opportunity to work with Cleveland area nonprofits. Fellows are selected through a competitive application process, and in the spring semester, they are placed at nonprofit organizations where they work four hours a week. Every other week, the fellows meet in seminar to reflect on their service, discuss social justice issues, and explore the assets of the Cleveland community.

Have you noticed a hole in your Friday schedule? University events happen during Community Hour. The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) led this initiative to acknowledge the importance of activities and community involvement in the life of students. Approved by university administration in 2004, the Community Hour is from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. each Friday of the fall and spring semesters. The time enables faculty, staff and students to engage in activities and programs that promote community building.

First-year students who want to join a Greek organization should consider attending fraternity recruitment events. For two weeks in the fall and again in the spring, fraternities sponsor a host of activities offering students a chance to learn about Greek life, service and brotherhood. Formal Recruitment for sororities begins in the spring semester.

Get in touch with your inner volunteer! All university staff, faculty, students, alumni and friends are invited to participate in Case for Community Day, a day set aside each year for us to dedicate to service. Whether fixing toys, donating blood, landscaping, painting or hosting local youth for a sports clinic, volunteers enjoy a range of opportunities to connect with and improve our Greater Cleveland community.

International Education Week is a national celebration of the benefits of international education and global exchange. CWRU is proud to celebrate IE Week and highlight the diversity of cultural events taking place on our campus and in our neighborhood with events for faculty, staff, students and community members

Homecoming is a campuswide celebration that brings together students, alumni, families, faculty and staff. This program blends the old with the new as we celebrate our past and embrace the future of Case Western Reserve. A series of events take place throughout the weekend, including a parade, football game, class competitions and numerous community and alumni gatherings.

If you didn't get to visit the farm during Orientation, the Farm Harvest Festival is the event to attend. This zero-waste program hosted by the Student Sustainability Council offers a variety of activities, food and entertainment for students at the farm.

The Baker-Nord Center was created in 1996 with an endowment gift from CWRU graduates Eric and Jane Nord and is dedicated to innovation, collaboration, and research across the arts & humanities at CWRU and throughout Northeast Ohio. Each year, the Baker-Nord Center sponsors a series of free public events featuring a range of distinguished humanities writers, scholars, and poets. A special SAGES seminar focuses on the Center’s programming, and with prominent scholars and writers of international renown engaging with the SAGES students in lively seminar discussions. Center activities also include film screenings, workshops in the digital humanities and an annual poetry contest.

Since 2005, one of our most popular events on campus has been the Thwing Study Over (TSO) which offers students a chance to break away from all of their books, papers and last-minute assignments. Held in both the fall and spring semesters just before finals week, students take over Thwing Center for free food from local vendors, massages, programming, entertainment and giveaways. The event is designed to help students take their minds off of final exams for a few hours. Over 1,000 students show up at TSO each semester, so this is one campus tradition that students hate to miss.

To help reduce the need for midnight forays to remote takeout restaurants, the university offers Late Night Breakfast on the first Thursday night of finals each semester. This event started in 1987 as a way to bring the campus community together for a fun night without studying during a stressful time of the year. Administrators, faculty and staff help serve the hundreds of hungry students. As the years have gone by this event has become a Case Western Reserve tradition in which all students are welcome to eat mass quantities of breakfast food and candy while being entertained by fellow classmates. Students can participate in talent contests, scavenger hunts and trivia contests making this event one of the campus's greatest successes.

Each fall, student-athletes from Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University meet on the gridiron with the victor claiming the Academic Bowl. This annual football game between two of the nation's top academic institutions began in the fall of 1986 and continues to be one of the more anticipated games for both teams each year.

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…," a number of parallel film groups on campus got together to form the CWRU Film Society. Almost as long ago—in 1976, actually—the society began its annual Science Fiction Film Marathon, which has since assumed legendary proportions on campus and in the region. It is one of the longest continuously-running science fiction marathon in the country. This thirty-six-hour-long, non-stop film fest takes place on the Friday and Saturday of the first week of class in the spring semester. You don't have to wait until January to enjoy the society's film offerings, however. The student group schedules great films at affordable prices every weekend throughout the academic year.

Women have the opportunity to join a sorority during Formal Recruitment, which takes place at the beginning of the spring semester. Formal Recruitment is based on the philosophy of equality in selection for both the chapter and potential new member. Each potential new member (PNM) has the opportunity to attend a series of recruitment parties for each chapter, allowing the PNM to learn about the chapter’s history, values and community involvement. Each woman who registers for Formal Recruitment is given a Recruitment Counselor (Rho Chi) who will guide her through the recruitment process. Rho Chis are upperclass Greek women who will be there to help PNMs get ready for recruitment, as well as to assist them through the selection process.

Strengths Month is a series of programs hosted by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership that gives students the opportunity to discover and apply their strengths through the StrengthsQuest assessment. This unique opportunity will help you become more selfaware and confident in the ways you can uniquely contribute to our campus community!

Every year on Valentine's Day, members of the Case Men's Glee Club put on their finest suits and deliver Singing Valentines to lucky recipients all around campus. They deliver valentines to classes, labs and meetings to entertain recipients and anyone else who overhears. They also sing to the university president and the rest of Adelbert Hall in a tradition much loved by the administration.

At least once a year, you can ditch the sweatpants and hoodies and don formal attire for the annual Snowball, sponsored by the Class Officer Collective. The festive soiree honors popular class officer and Snowball co-founder Cristina Camardo who died in 2000. Snowball occurs in the winter and features live music and dancing.

Integrity Week, also known as I-Week, is a series of events put on by the Academic Integrity Board during the spring semester. In the past, it has included a panel discussion, tie-dyeing and signing a banner pledging one's dedication to academic integrity on campus. Every Integrity Week concludes with a keynote speaker who discusses relevant issues on integrity.

When lightbulbs are dropping from roofs, towers are rising from piles of gumdrops and Lego robots are competing against each other, you can pretty much bet it's Engineers Week, a celebration of the many disciplines of engineering at the university. The event usually takes place around the February birthdate of George Washington, the nation's first president, who was a military engineer and surveyor before entering public service. Recent "E-Week" events have included a Coulter-Case Lectureship, an "Engineering Challenges" carnival at the Great Lakes Science Center and a formal faculty and student banquet.

Rather than a game of brain vs. brawn, the Faculty/Staff vs. Students Basketball Game is a match-up that promotes healthy competition and school spirit. You'll enjoy watching your friends, faculty and staff battle it out for a win.

The university enrolls more than a thousand undergraduate, graduate and professional international students representing about 90 nations. Often the various student nationality groups organize special events that celebrate their cultures. The largest of these events is the International Dinner, a student-led celebration that features food from dozens of countries followed by music and other entertainment. The dinner takes place every year in the spring and tickets sell out in a matter of hours.

Spring semester brings the annual Greek Week festivities, a period of intense interaction and competition among fraternities and sororities. The objective of the week's activities is to share information about the campus's Greek organizations with each other and with others on campus and emerge as the top-scoring group among competing teams. Activities range from a faculty luncheon and the Can Castle food drive to traditional competitions such as the egg toss and rope pull. With about two dozen Greek organizations on campus and mandatory participation for all members, turnout is large.

Know any outstanding student leaders? Enjoy a particularly successful event? Submit a nomination for the Student Leadership Awards. Created by Dr. Dorothy Pijan in 1982, the awards recognize and honor our outstanding undergraduate student leaders, groups and events. Dr. Pijan­—director of Thwing Center and student activities from 1982-2003—was a respected and nationally known student union professional with an incredible passion, drive and dedication to student leadership. After her death in 2003, the awards were named in her honor to recognize her many contributions to student life at Case Western Reserve University. Over 20 different student leadership awards are presented each year.

Relay For Life has quickly become one of Case Western Reserve’s annual spring traditions. Every April since 2008, this overnight fundraiser has garnered the interest of many students, faculty, staff members and community members. The event held on the Coach Bill Sudeck Track at DiSanto Field in the North Residential Village helps raise money for cancer research and education. In addition to raising thousands of dollars each year, the organization has expanded with the help of the Colleges Against Cancer. The Colleges Against Cancer, which was newly formed at the end of the 2013 spring semester, tries to promote advocacy, cancer education, survivorship and Relay For Life all year long in order to reach the most number of individuals.

Have you made a substantial contribution to your department or academic field? You may be invited to the annual Undergraduate Honors Assembly, which is held each April at Amasa Stone Chapel. This event from Undergraduate Studies awards departmental and collegiate prizes and scholarships to non-graduating students. Family and friends are welcome to join in and recognize these achievements.

The Hudson Relays have been a fixture on campus each spring for a century. The relays date back to 1910, when students at Adelbert College decided to run a relay race to commemorate our 1882 move to Cleveland. According to the founders, the race was "not in the normal course of mankind." For the next 80 years, teams of approximately 50 runners representing the undergraduate classes completed half-mile legs. This event is now sponsored by the Class Officer Collective.

Early on, the 26-mile route extended from the campus of Western Reserve Academy in Hudson to the large rocks on the lawn in front of Adelbert Hall. Since 1990, the race has been run as a 26-mile relay on a closed course around University Circle and still ends at the rocks in front of Adelbert Hall, where the name of the winning class team is carved as part of the tradition. The event was recently expanded to include graduate and alumni teams. Class teams that win the relay four years in a row not only gain campuswide popularity but earn a steak and champagne dinner paid for by the provost. Only three classes have won all four years. Will yours be next?

Since 2005, the race has been run in memory of Dr. Ignacio Ocasio (better known as "Doc Oc"), a well-loved chemistry professor who primarily taught first-year students. His popularity with students led him to be a coach for the freshmen team and a strong supporter of the Relays. In Spring 2009, a statue of Ocasio was dedicated by the university and sits near the Hudson Relays rocks outside of Adelbert Hall.

Each year, the Lux Chapter of the Mortar Board National Honor Society at Case Western Reserve holds an event called Rock for Doc, also named in honor of Dr. Ocasio. Students enjoy a free dinner and musical performances in remembrance of his legacy.

Taking place the last Saturday before finals and on the afternoon of the Hudson Relays, Springfest provides an opportunity to unwind before final exams. It's a day of fun on campus featuring large inflatables and attractions, free food, live music, carnival games and booths sponsored by student groups and campus organizations. Past headlining bands include The Black Keys, OK Go and Matt and Kim.

Campus and local bands traditionally open for the headliner, allowing Springfest to provide musical entertainment all day. Bands are chosen to perform by the student body at the Springfest Battle of the Bands. Taking place mid-February at The Spot, the Battle of the Bands is a showcase of campus bands with giveaways and free food. Students attend and vote on their favorite band so they can see them perform at Springfest.

This isn't a complete list, in part, because there are new traditions being developed each year by students. Consider that an invitation.

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