Staff Editorial: RPI has a rich history

Alby the squirrel was spotted recently. The albino squirrel—and the campus fascination with squirrels in general—is one of many RPI traditions.

RPI has many traditions. One event that is especially looked forward to by many is in April. GM Week is a week of festivities, fun, and a day without class. Many professors make their classes easier during GM Week. Exams tend not to be scheduled and homework loads are often lighter. Events last year included large blow-up bounce houses, student performances, free food, and more. Elections occur on the Thursday of GM Week; Results are revealed on the Saturday night during the finale of GM Week. In 2012, election results were made public following Dancing With RPI Stars.

During GM Week, students who vote get a mug. Long ago, before the legal drinking age was changed to 21, free beer was given out during GM Week. Nowadays, students can get free root beer from the Phalanx honor society on election day. They may also get it filled at the Pub for a fee.

Election day has its own traditions. Posters telling people to vote for the Moose or other characters crop up before election day. The Moose earns a small percentage of votes for Grand Marshal every year.

Every February, RPI hockey has the Big Red Freakout. The game tends to be nearly, if not completely, sold out. Students, alumni, and community members come to the game to celebrate the tradition of RPI hockey. Ever wondered why artificial noisemakers aren’t allowed at college hockey games? RPI fans were too loud with the noisemakers they were given at the 1987 Big Red Freakout. Hockey at RPI has its own set of traditions, including chants. During the Star Spangled Banner, people shout out the “red” in “and the rockets’ red glare”. The goalie for the other team is called a “sieve”, as in full of holes for a puck to slip through. Dozens of other chants can be found if you search the internet, or, better yet, attend a hockey game.

The Poly recommends that you learn about all of RPI’s great traditions. RPI is coming up on its 200th anniversary. Not many colleges can say that—and not many colleges can say they have as many traditions and as rich of a history as RPI has. For more information, check out the RPI Traditions site at