Campus traditions: Rites of passage and rivalries at L&C

Photo by Morgan Fries

By Kendall Arlasky

An intricate cheer, an annual event, an absurd competition — every college has its traditions, and Lewis & Clark is no different.

But no matter what the tradition, it ultimately is a reflection of what life is like on campus.

In the spirit of sports, LC currently has a wagon wheel which has been returned to us after what Austin Perrera ’18, a senior on the football team, referred to as a 17 year curse.

“The wagon wheel is a traveling trophy between Willamette and Lewis and Clark,” Perrera said. “It started in 1949, it’s one of the oldest trophies in LC sports. When LC first started a football team, Willamette’s team was super good. Then, after LC beat them, they decided to have a trophy between the two teams.”

The wagon wheel, as it turns out, is literally a wheel from a wagon and is a point of tension between  the two teams.

“LC hasn’t been very good the past couple of years so Willamette always is super disrespectful which just makes us want to beat them even more,” Perrera said. “It’s a lot of trash talk, they are not the best.”

As a result, the wagon wheel has created a lot of pressure to beat Willamette and helps boost the energy of the team.

“There’s always pressure when you’re playing football to win and do your best,” Perrera said. “But with the wagon wheel it’s just indescribable.”

Now that the LC football team has the wagon wheel, it seems that the stakes have been raised, and the LC football team is determined to keep it.

“At every game against Willamette, the wagon wheel is just across the field, so you stare at it and you just want it so bad,” Perrera said. “Now it’s on our side so we have to defend it.”

LC also has some traditions that are reserved for the first year students to help welcome them to campus.

Joshua Phillips ‘21 got to be a part of one of these traditions when he attended the River Party.

“The River Party is a party set on the Willamette River,” Phillips said. “We start out on campus, but in order to get to the party we have to walk down through a neighborhood and across the train tracks but we end up beside the river.”

According to Phillips, the atmosphere is a crucial part of what makes the river party an annual event.

“Everyone was trying to welcome the freshmen, who were all in the same boat at the time, not knowing many people,” Phillips said. “We were just mixing and talking.”

“I think the distance adds to the ritual,” Phillips said. “It’s within walking distance and I think it’s about convenience. It’s more exciting and adventurous. NSO would not have been the same without it.”

A third and arguably strangest tradition on campus is what the Forest residents call the virginitree.

“Basically if you lose your virginity at college, it’s tradition to throw your shoes in the tree,” Dan Marsa ’20, a Spruce Resident Advisor, said. “It’s located between Juniper and Spruce. It adds character, a little pizazz.”

The residents of Forest seem to be pretty clear on the purpose of the virginity tree and its role on campus.

“It can be a private moment, but I don’t think it’s purpose is embarrassment,” Marsan said. “I don’t think anything at Lewis & Clark is about embarrassing people, it’s about the tradition. If you lose your virginity in college, that’s kind of a big deal, so why not celebrate it?”

Marsan offered a word of advice for those wishing to participate in the virginitree tradition:

“Don’t get caught by your RA,” Marsan said.

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