It doesn’t get much better than Hey Day. It’s the day we’ll smile about years after graduation, the day we’ll recount to our grandchildren and the day that forever connects us to the rest of our alumni at this historic university.
Hey Day, a Penn tradition dating back to 1916, is recognized as the Penn junior’s rite of passage into senior year. Marked by a procession starting at High Rise Field and ending outside College Hall, this tradition is without question one of the quintessential experiences of every Penn undergraduate.
For the Class of 2013, this Wednesday will mark a milestone. The last time the junior class was fully assembled was Sept. 8, 2009 at Convocation, where President Amy Gutmann addressed them for the first time as Quakers. Come Hey Day, she’ll address them for the first time as seniors.
Think about how much the people in this class have gone through — all of the incredible people they have met, the clubs they have joined, the experiences they have endured and the hours they have put towards studies. Wednesday will be a celebration — a culmination of 2013’s three years on campus.
For the Class of 2012, Wednesday will also mark an historic day. They will come together at “Final Toast,” where these current seniors will enjoy great food, music and raise a glass to the Class of 2013 as these seniors-to-be take the top spot on campus. Final Toast also solidifies the Class of 2012’s official transition from undergraduates to alumni.
It’s important that we continue the ritual and do our part to keep this historic tradition the way our fellow Quakers envisioned it in 1916. More than anything, we have to ask ourselves — what are the stories we want to tell after Wednesday? What is it that we want to be remembered for?
While many classes look back on the laughs, the singing and the dancing down Locust, other classes have not been so lucky. Some previous classes have had to recall anecdotes that are painful to discuss.
Stories of a junior slipping on ketchup, falling during the procession and cracking his skull on Locust. Stories of a senior throwing eggs at a junior, cutting her retina with the shell and impairing her vision in one eye. Stories of seniors hazing, throwing food and then not being able to walk at graduation — sacrificing the ultimate rite of passage for the sake of a quick laugh. Participating in hazing isn’t so much about the repercussions from administrators as it is compromising our legacy.
These are just a few examples of the many incidents that have caused University administration to consider whether or not Hey Day should be discontinued altogether. Those juniors and seniors who may consider hazing this upcoming Wednesday not only jeopardize their privilege to walk during graduation, but also the future of this 96-year-old tradition.
The Hey Day Pledge is a promise to keep Hey Day safe, clean and alive for years to come. In just three days, over 1,900 students have signed the Pledge — and it’s efforts like these that allow us to continue the tradition.
Without a doubt, Wednesday will be one of the most memorable times here on campus. The Class of 2013 will march through Penn with their hats and canes as the Class of 2012 raises a glass in anticipation of their own march — donned in caps and gowns.