The Homewood campus has the look of a place where one would find tradition. It has a legendary academic reputation, and a proud and celebrated history. It has that collegiate atmosphere — the beautiful old buildings with marble columns, the tree-shaded quadrangles crisscrossed by brick pathways, Greek organizations and secret societies, as well as big games on beautiful Saturday afternoons resounding with the energy of an athletic legacy that has inspired fear in the hearts of our rival institutions for nearly one-hundred and thirty years.
Much about life at Hopkins is focused on where we will go and what we will do. We are a University that looks forward; a student body that, in the words of our eighth president, is “constantly pushing back the dark walls of the unknown”. But we are also a University that is aware of where we are now, and that which we, both as an institution and a community, have overcome together.
Below are just a few of the traditions in which you will inevitably take part should you decide to join us at Homewood.
The First Night ceremony takes place immediately following the O-Show, an orientation event that showcases the University’s A Capella, Dance and Theater groups. It serves as an opportunity for the upperclassmen to officially welcome and induct the freshmen into the Johns Hopkins student body on the opening day of the academic year. During the ceremony, each of the class presidents offers advice and well-wishes for the incoming freshmen, and light the candles of those standing closest to them. They, in turn, light the candles of those standing closest to them, and after a few minutes, the light of the flames spreads throughout the Freshman class. In this way, the upperclassmen, both literally and symbolically, pass the torch to the newest members of the Homewood community.
Convocation is the official ceremony that inducts the freshman class into the University. It marks the end of Orientation events and the beginning of your Blue Jay experience. During the ceremony, President Ron Daniels and esteemed faculty members speak about the wonderful experiences that await you in your undergraduate career. The formal ceremony concludes with a reception, a great opportunity to meet your professors and the deans, along with other members of the faculty.
University Seal -- Gilman Hall
Campus lore dictates that the seal of the University in the foyer of Gilman Hall holds the fate of those who step on it at its fairly capricious and unpredictable discretion. As the legend goes, students who step on the seal will not graduate, prospective applicants who step on the seal will not be admitted, parents who step on the seal will not receive financial aid, and professors who step on the seal will not be granted tenure. Some members of the Blue Key Society (which gives campus tours) maintain that when they accidentally step on the seal while walking backwards into Gilman Hall, the parents and prospective applicants on their tours begin to ask questions about the University that they can’t answer.
President’s Day of Service
The President’s Day of Service offers a variety of projects that immerse Hopkins students into the Baltimore community for a day of university-wide community service. Projects range from constructing homes and planting gardens to distributing food and volunteering with elementary school students. The President’s Day of Service is the ideal opportunity to give back to the community of which you will be a part for four years at Hopkins. Over a thousand students take part each year and it’s also a great way to meet new people!
Fall Fest, held annually at the beginning of October, is intended to celebrate the Homewood campus community. Students, faculty, and staff gather for a weekend filled with traditional fall activities including painting pumpkins and competing in a pie-eating contest, among others. The scavenger hunt, for example, pits teams of students, faculty and staff against one another to solve a series of more than twenty riddles that lead them around the campus and surrounding community.
Lighting of the Quads
The Lighting of the Quads kicks off the holiday season on the Homewood campus as President Daniels flicks the switch for the holiday lights on each quad. Gingerbread house competitions, a cappella performances, hot chocolate and a traditionally humorous speech by President Daniels make this annual event a memorable one. In conjunction with the festivities on campus, just a few blocks away is Miracle on 34th Street, an incredibly decorated row of homes near campus lit up in spirit of the holiday season!
Check out this video of lighting the quads:
Held annually on Feb. 22 to celebrate the University’s founding (and the installation of President Daniel Coit Gilman on Feb. 22, 1876) students gather in the Glass Pavilion to eat and mingle with the President, the Deans, the faculty, and their peers.
A Cappella groups are extremely popular at Hopkins. Most hold free Fall and Spring Concerts in the largest lecture halls on campus, and are routinely standing-room only. The Quarterfinals of the International Competition of Collegiate A Cappella are hosted yearly at Homewood in Shriver Hall. It is not uncommon for the ICCAs to have an attendance upwards of 1200. It is worth noting that, in the last ten years, groups from Hopkins have not failed to win or place in the top three of our quarterfinal. The JHU Octopodes won the 2011 and 2012 quarterfinals, and the AllNighters have won a number of times in the last fifteen years. The JHU Mental Notes, Hopkins’ only comedy a cappella group, are extremely highly regarded. Some videos from past performances of a few groups can be found below.