There’s something about Juniata College traditions that you need to know: we really get into them.
Juniata is a wonderful place to go to college, and one of the reasons our students (and our alumni, too) will tell you this is because Juniata is home to some of the most fun and memorable traditions you can imagine.
Many colleges arrange a time when campus clubs and student organizations introduce themselves to new students. Often this happens in a hot field house (Hint: bring your own water). At Juniata, though, we make a feast out of it. Lobsterfest—a fabulous picnic thrown in honor of our newest students—happens your first week on campus. It features lots of lobster, for those who love it, and is a great time to meet new friends, and, yes, check out all the clubs and organizations that have set up their tables around the picnic area. Club leaders are there with the sole purpose of meeting you.
You’ll have to visit a whole lot of colleges to find one that has a first-year tradition quite as exuberant, colorful, and completely fun as Juniata’s famous Storming the Arch. Juniata’s oldest and proudest residence hall, Cloister, features an iconic archway, a passage from one side of the campus to the other. For more years than any of us can remember, this landmark of the Juniata campus is, once every year, the site of a great battle, one that pits the entire First Year Class (at least as many as decide they want to participate) against the Juniata rugby teams. At stake is a coveted prize: the finest dorm room on the campus. All you have to do in order to win it is figure out a way to successfully “storm the arch”—break through the contingent of rugby players who stand guard and get at least one of your classmates through the other end. (Hint, it isn’t as easy as it sounds, and in fact it has never been accomplished. But imagine how famous your class will be if it becomes the first class to actually break through!)
What day will be declared Mountain Day? You’ll find yourself guessing, along with every other student, and member of the faculty and staff. But when that foghorn finally sounds across the campus at 5 a.m., you’ll know. Classes are canceled and you’ll get the opportunity to spend the day at the Lake—Raystown Lake—one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Pennsylvania, and a second home for many Juniatians. When you get to the Lake, there’s another tradition awaiting you, an annual student vs. faculty tug-of-war. Trust us when we tell you: you and your fellow students have a much better chance of winning the tug-of-war against the faculty than you had trying to Storm the Arch!
You’ll want to dress up for Madrigal, Juniata’s fun and warm winter formal. At this dinner-dance, faculty and staff will be your waiters, serving you dinner and joining as you sing holiday carols. But, if you decide you want the best table for the evening (the one reserved for “Five Golden Rings!” during caroling) you have to rough it first. Tenting is a tradition that is not for the feint of heart. Juniata students erect tents along a “ticket line” on the quad, and camp out for a week. Not just any week, of course, but that soul-chilling one that happens in late November. If you make it through the week, you’ll earn your seat at the best table at Madrigal. (This will all make much more sense to you when you get here!)
There are Juniata traditions for the head as well as the heart, of course. Juniata’s Liberal Arts Symposium is a daylong celebration of student project development, research work, and artistic performances. And Physics Phun Night—a great night to learn about those really cool things the physics students have been working on all year—some times features Juniata alumnus and Nobel Prize winner in Physics Dr. Bill Phillips ’70. Stressbusters will be there for you during exam week. And, of course, because Juniata College attracts such interesting smart, fun, and engaged students, new traditions are always under development. You may even start one yourself!