Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
May 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Creating tradition; Three options for new Class Day ceremony

A group of students will pick one of three options to replace the tradition of smashing clay pipes on Class Day that was formally ended by the College last month.

Senior Class President Doug Chia '93, a member of the committee, said the group has come up with three popular choices.

"One involves laying a wreath of pine branches around the lone pine stump. At the end of the Class Day ceremonies, people would go up and take a piece of the wreath," Chia said.

The wreath ceremony is actually a modification of a past Class Day tradition, according to Chia.

The other options both contain a "smashing" element to symbolize the graduates' break with the College.

"We are also considering distributing clay medallions with the College seal to everyone and then smashing them on the stump," Chia said.

Under the third option, "we would distribute clay cups to everyone and someone would propose a toast. Then, everyone would smash them on the stump," Chia said.

The Class of 1992 eliminated the pipe smashing tradition from Class Day last year and instead met later that night on the Bema for a candlelight vigil. The seniors blew their candles out one at a time for a ceremonial effect of extinguishment, leaving the Bema in darkness.

The candlelight ceremony will most likely still happen the night of Class Day, Chia said.

"Most people thought the candlelight ceremony was a nice addition, but they wanted to do it in addition to a clay pipes ceremony replacement," said Class of '96 Vice President-elect Tom Caputo, who is also a member of the committee.

Members of the committee said they will begin researching the different options today.

"We need to see which ones will work logistically and whether we can get some of these things," Chia said. "Hopefully, we will come to a decision as soon as possible because all the options involve placing orders."

Cost becomes a key factor when you are considering sponsoring any event for 1,000 people, Caputo said.

One of the logistical problems with the clay cup option is distributing a beverage in an orderly manner to so many people, Caputo said.

The actual nature of the beverage is also in question. "Although it seems logical when toasting to have an alcoholic beverage, I do not foresee the College endorsing this," Caputo said. "It would probably be something like water or lemonade, but I am sure you are going to have people bringing their own drinks if this proposal is the one we actually decide upon."

The committee members said they hope to settle on an alternative to the clay pipes ceremony that will become a new tradition.

"Every tradition is essentially re-evaluated every year. If it is repeated, the tradition is affirmed. If it is not repeated, the tradition comes to an end," Chia said.

"The '93s are taking the leadership to start something new. It is up to the succeeding classes to continue it as a tradition."

It is not really possible to replace a tradition, Caputo said. "We want to find a substitute close enough to the original that people would adapt it, and it would become a part of the unifying Class Day tradition," Caputo said.

The more than 100-year old pipe smashing ceremony was criticized by Native American students who viewed it as insulting to their cultures, which consider pipes to be sacred objects.

Class Day occurs the day before Commencement. Seniors meet on the Bema to receive awards and hear speeches by class leaders, professors and administrators.