Everyone but Harvard celebrates spring

by Christopher Kao | 5/13/93 10:00pm

Spring festivals are not unique to Dartmouth -- most colleges and universities around the country, and all of the Ivy League schools with the exception of Harvard, host some kind of spring celebration.

The main feature of most of these traditional weekends is drinking and fraternity/sorority parties, but at many schools the weekend has become a lot more than just drinking.

How does Green Key Weekend stack up against the spring festivities at other schools?

Well, it is mild in comparison with Columbia's annual spring festival. Columbiafest is a five day event that takes place a week before reading period.

"It's a big tension reliever right before finals," said Columbia undergrad Rebecca Castillo.

The fest changes from year to year, but there is always a comedian, a lecturer and a band, Castillo said. In the past the fest has featured a semi-formal, wacky olympics (jello wrestling, etc.), a speech by Dr. Ruth and a Ramones concert.

This year, performers such as Spike Lee, Adam Sandler and Helmet, an alternative rock band, entertained Columbia students. Other activities included a performance by Chinese dragon dancers, a campus band concert and a foosball tournament.

The week ended with a carnival and a campus-wide picnic with elephant rides, a velcro fly trap, an orbitron -- a rotating-spherical like structure in which people can spin -- a moonwalk, a Caribbean and Reggae music concert, a volleyball tournament sponsored by Evian and a barbeque sponsored by Frito-Lay.

"There were lines everywhere to try everything," Castillo said.

According to Castillo, the fest cost approximately $25,000 not including corporate sponsorships.

Brown University's annual spring festival before finals was just as busy.

Spring Weekend, a four day event, featured a charity tricycle race, casino night, the Bizarre Bazaar Auction (one of the items auctioned, a dinner with Brown President Vartan Gregorian, sold for $800), Battle of the Bands, a speech by United States Representative Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and a concert by 10,000 Maniacs. The Weekend also included a carnival with a velcro wall, a bungee run, and an orbitron.

Student reaction was divided over the Weekend itself, due mainly to the heavy drinking during the festival.

Brown freshman Jennifer Gall told the Brown Daily Herald, "I was disgusted with the whole weekend because everybody was just drinking. It was kind of gross to go outside and see beer cans all over the place."

Elizabeth O'Brien, also a freshman, agreed. She told the Herald, "The excessive drinking was disturbing. People think they have to drink just because it is Spring Weekend."

Yale University's annual festival is similarly alcohol related. It is a large, three-day weekend event including a "Keg Suck" (a "fierce battle to finish off kegs" according to the Yale Daily News) and "Tang" (a beer drinking race between dorms), a pig roast, a Native American Pow-Wow and a concert by They Might Be Giants.

For those who did not want to drink (one Yale undergraduate said of the Keg Suck, "To be honest, sprinting and booting never really appealed to me."), the weekend featured Communiversity Day, a carnival for university and New Haven residents that included a social service bazaar, comedians, bands, a moonwalk, a dunk tank and free food.

There was also a university-wide cookout and Spring Fling, a performance which included dance troupes, campus bands, comedy groups and Too Much Joy, a regional band.

The University of Pennsylvania also holds an annual Spring Fling in Philadelphia. Campus bands played on two different stages in the quadrangles and vendors sold refreshments to the students.

The theme for this year's fest was "Three Ring Fling," and included a carnival with a ferris wheel and other rides, a velcro wall and a sumo wrestling cage where students clothed in heavy sumo costumes threw themselves at each other. Living Colour was supposed to play, but they were rained out.

Cornell's Spring Fest takes place on the last day of classes. The University pays for bands that play throughout the day and provides free refreshments for students.

Students call the day Slope Day because of the tradition of students gathering together and drinking beer on Libe Slope instead of attending classes

The University of Maine holds Bumstock and Maine Day. Kay Hyatt, director of news services at the University of Maine, said Bumstock is an outdoor music festival and Maine Day is devoted to involving students and faculty in community service projects,

Maine Day ends with a free barbeque and an oozeball (volleyball in six inches of mud) tournament.

Amherst College's Spring Weekend is a three day event that featured Bobcat Goldwaithe, Mare O'Connell and the Great Drive-In Movie.

Although cold weather forced the drive-in movie (Dracula and Aladdin) indoors, "It was still fun," said Jonathan Lehr, the assistant to the director of student activities.

The Spin Doctors played at Amherst College a few weeks earlier as part of the Spring Celebration. Poi Dog Pondering and others have played at Amherst's Spring Weekend in the past.

Amherst spent over $10,000 on the Weekend, not including the Spin Doctors concert.

Boston University sponsors an annual week-long World Fair. This year's theme was "Unmask the World," Carol Godwin, public relations associate for BU said.

The Fair included Carnivale '93, an outdoor international food fair, the Grand Ball Internazionale, a dance ball, an international fashion show and the International Gala, a program of various ethnic performances.

Duke University does not have one specific spring weekend, according to Beth Budd, assistant director for programming for Duke. Instead, Duke and its Greek houses hold special weekends throughout the term such as Greek Week and Derby Day.

Spring Fest, one of these special weekends, is a large food, crafts and acoustic music fair. There is also a free concert at night by bands such as Drivin-n-Cryin and other regional bands.