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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Traditions are what make college experience unique

    Universities around the country have unique traditions that make students feel like they’re having the “true college experience.” Although these traditions are sometimes associated with risks and are looked upon negatively by outsiders, college students are mature enough to decide whether or not they want to take part in these events, and the ultimate decision should be theirs.

    Since 1916, the UA freshman class has re-painted the “A” on “A” Mountain each year.

    A quarter of Brandeis University’s student body in Massachusetts participates in a body art fashion show where they wear nothing but liquid latex body paint.

    Seniors at the University of Virginia have been known to consume large quantities of liquor before their last home football game, similar to how some UA seniors choose to get drunk at Dirtbags before graduation.

    All universities have both conventional traditions and outrageous ones, and Stanford University is no exception.

    Up at this northern California Ivy League-caliber school, upperclassmen approach incoming freshmen with a Stanford tradition: kissing the newbies.

    On the night of the school year’s first full moon, students gather in the middle of campus, the band plays and the bravest Stanford freshmen step forward to receive a traditional smooch.

    But with this tradition comes another. Days later, the university reported a sudden outbreak around the dorms of mononucleosis, also known as the “kissing disease.”

    According to Mayo Clinic, the mono-causing virus is transmitted through saliva, which means someone can be exposed not only through kissing, but also through coughing, sneezing or sharing utensils or drinks with someone else.

    Mayo also reported that adolescents or young adults — the general student age group — are more likely to get mono.

    General symptoms include fatigue, a sore throat, a fever, a rash and swollen lymph nodes or tonsils. Welcome to college, freshmen! Enjoy your stay.

    School officials have tried to ban the tradition. They failed to outright end it, so they’re now trying to make this event safer by educating students on “safe kissing,” and having “sobriety monitors” attend the event holding signs that say things like “Consent is Sexy.”

    Precautions are fine, and students should be encouraged to stay safe, but trying to discourage students from participating in these kinds of events is the wrong approach.

    Students face risks every day, and it is up to them to understand those risks and choose whether to be a part of something or not.

    Caroline Doyle, a freshman at Stanford, had a goal of reaching 100 kisses by the end of the night, according to the New York Times. After the big night, Doyle tested negative for mono, but reported having a sore throat.

    “The repercussions were brutal,” Francisca Gilmore, a freshman at Stanford in 2009, told the New York Times in an interview. “But I think in the long run, getting to tell people I’ve kissed over 50-plus people in a night is worth it.”

    College students are old enough to make their own choices, to learn from them and to deal with potential consequences.

    And there is something special about college traditions. Whether it’s being kissed 50 times in one night as a Stanford freshman, climbing “A” Mountain while singing the UA’s fight song or walking in a fashion show wearing nothing but liquid latex — it’s traditions like these that make the college experience unique. ­­They’re something that makes students feel like a part of the colleges’ history.

    Regardless of the risks, these traditions shouldn’t fall under the authority of the university administration. No one is forcing students to take part; these are things we choose whether or not to experience — and for many of us, they’re well worth the gamble.

    Ashley T. Powell is a journalism senior. Follow her @ashleytaylar.

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