Marquis traditions

A look at some of Lafayette’s signature spring events, old and new.

Alumni have gathered to sing the alma mater at Pardee for generations. In the 1890s, students would stand on the steps at twilight to sing in harmony, notes Elaine Stomber ’89 P’17, P’21, co-director of Special Collections and College Archives and College Archivist. This scene inspired Walter Stier, Class of 1884, to write the words to the alma mater: “We’ll gather by the twilight’s glow, in front of old Pardee.” Singing the alma mater on Pardee Hall steps became a revered tradition for alumni during Reunion in the mid-20th century, a tradition that continues today. PHOTOGRAPHS (PARDEE STEPS; JOHN LONGAKER; CALCULUS) BY LAFAYETTE COLLEGE ARCHIVES
The George Wharton Pepper Prize is a coveted honor established in 1923 by Sen. George Wharton Pepper H’22, and bestowed upon a senior “who most nearly represents the Lafayette ideal.” Pictured is John H. Longaker 1923, the first Pepper Prize winner. Just over a century later, the tradition continues: Seniors can apply or be nominated, and the winner is honored with a chance to speak at Commencement.
Following final calculus classes in the 19th century, sophomores burned their math books on the Quad, says Stomber. The Cremation of Calculus took on a life of its own: Some students held parades afterwards, while others created plays about it (see playbooks, above). The tradition perished around 1900.
Since 1982, seniors counted down to Commencement with a 100 Nights spring formal set 100 days before graduation. (It’s complemented by 1,000 Nights, a fall formal for first-year students.) After COVID-19, the formal was renamed 100 Hours and moved to May. However, seniors still mark 100 Nights with a champagne toast in February. PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUGLAS KILPATRICK/ZOVKO PHOTOGRAPHY LLC
Since 2011, alumni chapters across the U.S. and in countries around the world have hosted Wine 3/9 events. These coast-to-coast toasts to Lafayette honor March 9, 1826, the date the governor of Pennsylvania signed the charter that established the College. Every March, Wine 3/9 events are held in dozens of locations from Denver (above) to Dallas. PHOTOGRAPH SUBMITTED BY MIRA VAN ROON BRAND ’92 , P’25