“These hats are awful!” one girl yelled as her Styrofoam hat breezed past Rodin College House and onto Harrison College House’s green. Meanwhile, thousands of others seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the traditional Hey Day headgear, many even taking bites.
Wednesday morning, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” played in Rodin Field as nearly 2,500 juniors celebrated Penn’s 96th annual Hey Day. Fist-pumping with canes in hand, the throng shuffled to College Green to begin their coming-of-age ceremony. Passersby on Locust Walk watched from the sidelines as flour- and ketchup-covered juniors walked past.
The Class of 2013 gathered in front of College Hall and, in red T-shirts and half-bitten hats, listened as President Amy Gutmann spoke about their upcoming year. “Before I can do the honors,” Gutmann shouted as per tradition, “you have to pass one more test. Three questions.”
Who is the founder of the University? “Ben Franklin!” the class shouted with pride. Who’s the president of the Class of 2013? “Jonathon Youshaei,” they answered with a bit less certainty. Finally, is the Class of 2013 the greatest class ever? Cheers — louder than the students studying in nearby Van Pelt probably appreciated — erupted.
“I hereby pronounce you seniors!” Gutmann declared.
Down the walk by Sweeten Alumni House, the reality of graduation hit some members of the class of 2012 looking on from their Final Toast celebration.
For College senior Andres Saborio, Hey Day meant more as a senior that it did the year before. “It’s more nostalgic, but at the same time it feels more important. Also we have beer, which is really nice,” he said. Despite it being the end of an era for Saborio, he doesn’t fear what’s to come. “I’m not sad. What worries me most is losing touch with my friends, but besides that I’m ready to graduate,” he said.
College senior Monica Gojman, who expressed similar sentiments, said, “It’s bittersweet, but I’m excited about what’s to come. I’m going to miss my friends, but I’m sure I’ll see them.”
College junior Ali Kriegsman regarded Hey Day as a time to look back on her past just as much as it is to look forward to her upcoming senior year.
“It’s a culmination of everything I’ve done at school thus far,” she began. “It’s a day to emphasize that we’re the biggest influence on this campus now and it’s our last time to really make a difference … and to celebrate everything we’ve done.”
Senior year, according to Kriegsman, is a bittersweet and scary experience to anticipate. “I’m afraid that it’s going to make Penn feel more temporary than it’s been because being at school, you don’t anticipate that last year,” she said. “When you’re a freshman everything is full of opportunity and it feels like an indefinite amount of time, but now there’s a benchmark to the end of my time at school and I want to make it worth it.“