UMass Amherst Pride and Traditions
Today’s Campus Traditions
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.
To help our freshman get around campus with ease and style, the Alumni Association provides each new student with comfortable flip flops!
Welcome Back Pancake Breakfast
They may be missing home, but they won’t go hungry! The Alumni Association welcomes students back to campus each fall with a free breakfast of pancakes and breakfast sausage in Memorial Hall.
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 a bonfire, school and college open houses, and festivities at MinuteFan Park before the football game!
The Alumni Association helps prepare students for life after UMass Amherst with a formal dinner and instruction on proper meal etiquette during this multi-course meal.
Members of the fraternity and sorority system celebrate the Greek community each spring with fun events, community service project, and a competition for the Greek Week champions. Points are determined by who wins events and/or who has the highest participation and contributes the most to the community service effort.
Once held by the campus pond, the Spring Concert now brings today’s musical talents to the Mullins Center each spring.
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.
Members of the senior class rally to commemorate their time at UMass Amherst by raising funds toward their class gift.
Established in 1998 by the Alumni Association, this final senior gala starts the traditional celebrations leading up to Commencement. Typically held during spring finals at the Student Union, the Commencement Ball is now held at the Mullins Center.
Traditions of Yesteryear
Freshmen sported their UMass beanies around campus until the football team scored their first touch-down of the season.
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!
To kick-off Homecoming festivities, a parade of floats, performing groups and the Minuteman Marching Band marched through campus and around Amherst center rallying the UMass faithful.
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.
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.
At its height in the 50s, the Military Ball was one of the premiere formal events on campus.