Traditions of Yesteryear

Freshmen sported their UMass beanies around campus until the football team scored their first touch-down of the season. 

Rope Pull
The campus pond was created in 1892 when a small dam was built across Tan Brook in the center of campus. The following year the traditional rope pull across the pond began. Class pride was at stake as teams of 60 men positioned themselves on opposite sides of the water with a 600 foot rope between them. Freshmen took on sophomores and juniors battled seniors for bragging rights!

Chief Metawampe, a local American Indian who lived in the area in the 17th century, became the official mascot of the University of Massachusetts in 1948. For the next 24 years, we were known as the Redmen until controversy  over the nickname prompted the university to make a change. In 1972, students selected the Minuteman as our official mascot, replacing Metawampe.

What’s a little mud-slinging between friends? Teams from colleges across the northeast gathered at UMass Amherst for some clean fun—mud volleyball.

Winter Carnival
For many years, Winter Carnival was a campus celebration featuring concerts, comedy shows, dances, the crowning of a winter carnival queen and, of course, the construction of elaborate snow sculptures.

Military Ball
At its height in the 50s, the Military Ball was one of the premiere formal events on campus.

Today’s Campus Traditions

First Week
UMass Amherst’s incredible introduction to campus life takes place the first week of the fall semester and offers a dizzying array of events. Some are social (with excellent food), some are cultural, some intellectual, and others will help you get acclimated to college life and ready for classes.

Homecoming is the perfect opportunity for alumni to come back to campus and meet up with their UMass Amherst friends for a fun-filled weekend! Homecoming highlights include school and college open houses and festivities at MinuteFan Park before the football game!

Homecoming Parade
To kick-off Homecoming festivities, a parade of floats, performing groups and the Minuteman Marching Band marches through campus and around Amherst center rallying the UMass faithful.

Alumni Weekend
All generations of alumni are invited back to UMass to connect, learn and celebrate during Alumni Weekend. Festivities include reunions, tours, receptions and learning programs.

Minuteman Statue
A lot of UMass Amherst students put their faith in the Minuteman Statue near the Old Chapel. Created by retired UMass Amherst art professor John Townsend, the statue was commissioned by the Class of 1950 in honor of the veterans of World War II. Students in the know like to stop by and give his foot a rub before sharpening up their No. 2 pencils and diving into exams.

Shovel and Scoop
The planting of the class tree is a time-honored tradition that dates back to 1867. Each year, the graduating class plants a tree, followed by an ice cream social. When walking across campus, look carefully at the base of trees for the year that each one was planted.

Senior Campaign
Members of the senior class rally to commemorate their time at UMass Amherst by raising funds toward their class gift.

Commencement Ball
Established in 1998 by the Alumni Association, this final senior gala starts the traditional celebrations leading up to Commencement.  Previously held during spring finals at the Student Union, the Commencement Ball is now held at the Mullins Center.