By Brett Land
With finals approaching and graduation right around the corner, senior traditions have continued with the class of 2010.
Graduating seniors participated in the three different ceremonies April 16 that exhibit the history that helps define the university.
The ring ceremony began in 1995, the university’s sesquicentennial year.
Before graduation, the seniors wear their custom rings with the flame logo on top pointed toward them and their hearts. Once they become alumni, they turn the ring so the flame is an outward shining torch for the world.
The ring is a symbol of the bond between alumni and the university.
The robing ceremony started around 1902 and is the oldest of the senior traditions. In this event, seniors can choose someone from the junior class to place their caps and gowns on to symbolize the passing down of student leadership to the next class.
Another tradition is Midnight March. Not only does it involve the seniors, but students of all ages.
Once the clock strikes midnight, the seniors meet their peers outside to light the candles they have given as an honor symbolizing friendship and loyalty.
Seniors sing “Up with the Purple” as faces glow with the light from their flames. To end the night, the graduates ring the senior bell.
Director of Alumni Relations Rebecca O’Banion participated in most of these traditions when she graduated from the university in 1993. She left just before the ring ceremony started but enjoyed the other two events.
“I loved the symbolism of the passing down of the leadership role to the juniors,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to involve the underclassmen in the rich traditions.”
O’Banion is the senior class sponsor, so she helped coordinate the events. She wanted the seniors to grasp the importance of the ceremonies.
“I work with the senior class officers to make sure students understand about the traditions,” she said.
One of those officers is senior Christian studies major Geoff Payne, president of his class.
“I was the representative for all seniors during these events,” he said, “speaking and standing on behalf of all the graduates.”
Having seen previous students go through these traditions, Payne thought the whole process was surreal.
Senior marketing major Katy Bumpus agreed.
She said, “I couldn’t believe that it was my turn to light people’s candles.”
The ceremonies are full of richness that has continued for decades, and seniors will likely never forget their time here.
“I can hardly believe that it’s already been four years,” Payne said. “But, at the same time, I feel like God’s blessed me with a lifetime full of memories.”