The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.


Penn Traditions, located in Sweeten Alumni House, is dedicated to preserving the history of Penn while also fostering community among the student body.

Penn Traditions is an organization dedicated to promoting the history of Penn from the moment students get accepted into the University to years after they graduate.

Located in Sweeten Alumni House, Penn Traditions aims to “promote and inspire lifelong Penn pride.”

Aman Goyal, Director of Penn Traditions, Student and Young Alumni Programming, says that promoting traditions allows for the Penn community to connect over shared experiences through events such as the class tree planting tradition, U-Night, Final Toast, and Alumni Weekend. All events are collaborative efforts between various organizations, such as University Life and the Class Boards.

Hertha Gallego, a College junior and the Penn Traditions chair to the Penn Alumni Board, explained that the group is divided into three committees: campus community, class ambassadors, and the student philanthropy council. 

The campus community committee’s purpose is to create events that could develop into traditions, Goyal said. For example, the committee was behind the Earth Day event, where they handed out pots of plants to community members on Locust Walk. 

The class ambassadors committee is designated to help with Alumni Weekend, which will be taking place from May 12 to 15 this year. According to Goyal, members of the committee are specifically trained to understand alumni schedules and programming for the class they are assigned to. 

Penn Traditions also supports student groups on campus, such as the Undergraduate Assembly and Class Boards. Through the Penn Traditions Alumni Engagement Fund, clubs and organizations on campus are able to apply to funds managed by the student philanthropy council.

Goyal said one of his goals as a new director is redefining what traditions are.

“Penn Traditions brings all of our Penn community together and commonalities that we can share,” Goyal said. “[I hope] to build those bridges amongst our ever-growing alumni community.”

Elise Betz — executive director of alumni relations and founder of Penn Traditions: Building Our Community. — said she was inspired to begin the organization while leading the Seniors for The Penn Fund in 2002. 

At the time, she noticed how Penn’s Senior Gift Drive had significantly low participation compared to other Ivy League universities. Betz also recognized that recent Penn graduates no longer stayed connected to Penn.

To address these issues, she decided to launch Penn Traditions: Building Our Community. to foster school spirit past the graduation ceremony. Through a new program, she wanted to demonstrate the importance of philanthropy and the role of the Penn Fund in financing the institution.  

“We came up with Penn Traditions [to build] our community and a way that we could start to talk about what it means to be an alum,” Betz said. “We are the first school in the country to create … a comprehensive student philanthropy engagement program, and we have become a model for schools literally all over the world.”

Gallego said she first joined Penn Traditions as a way to find a community and learn more about Penn as an international student.

“Coming to the U.S. was already a big change in itself,” Gallego said. “I didn't really know what the American experience would look like, and adding COVID-19 onto that really just made it kind of hard.” 

As Penn’s demographics have changed over the years, Penn Traditions has also been working to create safe spaces for historically marginalized communities. Goyal also said that it is open to ideas from all Penn community members, even if they are not a member of Penn Traditions.

“Even if you’re not involved in Penn Traditions, but want to do something for the Penn community at large, reach out to somebody in Penn Traditions or to me, and let us know your idea,” Goyal said.