Eastern traditions bridge past and present


By Rebekah Frank


Traditions come and go with the times, and, just as technology changes, so have Eastern’s traditions from past to present.

One tradition that has long since passed was the “Kissing Rock.” When more men started attending the university in 1946, they were housed in completely separate dormitories than the women.

In order to meet up with their loved ones, students would have to sneak out of their dorms and go to the kissing rock without being spotted by the dean of women.

“The myth with the kissing rock was the rock was halfway between Sutton and Senior halls and they would call that path ‘lover’s lane,’” said Whitney Meyer, EWU events and visits coordinator.

The rock became a very popular meeting place because it was surrounded by shrubs and gave the students privacy.

In fact, according to the EWU tour information guide, the rock became so popular that the students kept a schedule under the skirt of the Sacajawea statue that used to be on top of the rock. The statue has recently been relocated to Showalter Hall.

Another tradition that is no longer a part of campus life at EWU is sledding on dining trays. Former EWU students used to sneak the dining services trays out of the dining area, rub vegetable shortening on the bottom of them, and go sledding during winter quarter out by the baseball fields.

The trays used to be aluminum which made for a great sled, and students would keep them all quarter and then return them when the snow was gone.

Some EWU traditions have lasted throughout the years, such as the sororities and fraternities, which were first recognized in 1963.

Each year around May, according to Jana Jaraysi EWU Admissions associate director, the EWU sororities and fraternities put on their annual Greek Week. There are many activities, including flag-football, volleyball, 3-on-3 basketball, community service events and more.

Also during that week, the boxcar races are held. Teams build their boxcars, and the campus police shut down College Avenue while they are racing for the afternoon.

Another popular event during Greek Week is the lipsync competition.

“It is taken very, very seriously,” said Jaraysi. EWU faculty and staff are invited to be judges and, rumor has it, some teams bring back alumni who are talented singers or choreographers to help them win.

Students are involved in one tradition with origins dating back to when EWU was first founded in 1882, with the passing through the pillars in front of Showalter Hall.

When EWU was founded, it was a school for women to become teachers. Students would come by train and walk up to the university. The path from the train to the university became known as the “Hello” walk because the students would see their friends from the previous year, say hello and catch up with them as they walked to campus together, according to Mutschler.

This is how EWU started its tradition of passing through the pillars in front of Showalter Hall, which welcomes the incoming freshmen to the campus.

“This is sort of a new take on an old tradition,” said EWU Library University Archivist Charles Mutschler.

According to Mutschler, the pillars are actually constructed from the granite from the facing of the normal school building, which burned in 1912. This way current students and future students can have a connection with former students.

“That made a very nice ceremonial entry to the campus,” said Mutschler.

“I think traditions are important,” said EWU freshman Jessica Basta. “They help us connect with the school.”