Campus customs

UNR’s student body has kept tradition alive

Students bring their decorated graduation caps to the Little Waldorf before commencement.

Students bring their decorated graduation caps to the Little Waldorf before commencement.

Photos/Andrea Heerdt

Every university has its own long-standing traditions. At the University of Nevada, Reno, the school’s well-known traditions include running around in your underwear, getting drunk before graduation, firing a cannon at football games, and placing hundreds of empty liquor bottles in front of the school’s beloved John Mackay statue.

Fremont Cannon

The 545-pound Fremont Cannon is a replica of the howitzer that accompanied captain John C. Fremont on his expedition through Oregon, Nevada and California from 1843-1844. It is now the prize for the annual UNR versus University of Nevada, Las Vegas football game.

Former UNLV football coach Bill Ireland came up with the idea to create the gigantic trophy. Although the University of Nevada, Reno, won the first football game between the two schools in 1969, the cannon was not completed until the year after. It made its first appearance in 1970 when the Rebels beat the Wolf Pack and claimed the trophy.

When UNR has the cannon, it’s kept on campus under a sign that reads: “The Fremont Cannon: The Largest ‘Rival’ Trophy in America.” It is so large that it requires either school’s ROTC to disassemble it before transporting it. Depending on which team wins the cannon each year, it’s then painted either Nevada blue or Rebel red.

During the annual UNLV versus UNR football game, the cannon is brought onto the field for fans to see. The cannon has remained blue in favor of UNR since Nov. 26, 2016 but will be fought for once again on Nov. 24 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

Undie Run

This revealing tradition put on by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada happens every fall, usually during the school’s homecoming week, in front of the Joe Crowley Student Union.

The tradition, which is said to have started in the early 2000s, begins by students stripping down to their underwear and collecting their clothes. Different campus organizations, sororities, fraternities and even different dorms compete with each other to see who can collect the most clothing, which is then donated to local charities.

Regardless of the competitive aspect, the event is a way to raise school spirit and awkwardly bond with friends. After students strip down and donate their clothes, they partake in about a one-mile run across campus in their underwear.

Cold weather or not, hundreds of students show up for the Undie Run every year to enjoy dancing and music before running through campus with friends and classmates, laughing through the embarassment along the way.

Mimosas at The Little Waldorf

According to Toby Tamangi, general manager of the Little Waldorf, the tradition of students drinking mimosas before commencement started in the winter of 2006. He said three of his student employees wanted a place to hang out and drink early in the morning before their graduation. Tamangi said he opened up the bar at 6 a.m., made his employees pancakes and brought in bottles of champagne for them to enjoy before their ceremony began at 8 a.m.

The following semester, there were about 15 students who showed up for the mimosas and pancakes. At the following winter ceremony, close to 50 people showed up, and by the next spring graduation, Tamangi said hundreds of soon-to-be graduates began rolling in through the doors of The Little Waldorf.

Caroline Ackerman, a recent UNR graduate, remembers hearing about the tradition when she was a freshman in college and wanted to partake with her friends when she graduated in May of this year.

When she arrived at the Little Waldorf shortly after 6 a.m., she said the entire place was packed. Every corner of the bar was filled with students wearing graduation garb and passing around pitchers of champagne and orange juice.

Sacrifices to Mackay

This tradition was officially started in 2007 and has continued every fall and spring semester thereafter. The night before final exams begin, university students head to the large grass field on the south end of campus, known as the quad, to place empty bottles of alcohol under the John Mackay statue.

Students place handles, beer bottles and other containers under the statue, hoping the sacrifice brings them good luck on their finals—like an offering to the finals gods.

When heading down to the quad, dozens of students pose in front of the statue, proudly showing off gigantic handles they’ve consumed throughout the semester as their friends take pictures to post on Snapchat. It’s a way to not only reflect on all of the hard work they have done throughout the semester, but all of the partying they’ve done as well.

Early the next morning, the campus facilities department recycles the hundreds of bottles. By dusk, the whole process begins again. Throughout finals week, empty bottles are placed under John Mackay until the very last day of tests is over.