Tradition is a tricky topic when it comes to college life. Some traditions are worth keeping and add to the culture at the school. Other traditions can be worth dropping — especially if they’re detrimental in some way. Specifically, I’m talking about run night serenades.
Run night, if you don’t know, happens every year. It is the night when students who have decided to join the Greek community run home to their respective houses. A large majority of the campus comes out to this event (Over half the campus is Greek, after all) and everyone seems to have a good time.
A significant part of run night has always been serenades, where the fraternities would go from sorority to sorority, singing songs and introducing their new members. About six years ago, the serenades started getting a little out of control.
To avoid specifically calling any group of people out I’ll phrase it like this: certain members of certain fraternities had a little too much of a certain beverage and routinely caused problems. Year after year, it seemed, boys who purported to be gentlemen acted in a very ungentleman-like manner.
When the campus got a new Greek adviser a few years ago, he, with the support of the national levels of these organizations, brought down the hammer. Serenades were officially over. A tradition that any visiting alumnus would be appalled to hear was eliminated, would be gone for good.
At least that was the plan.
Fully understanding the issues that come with run night serenades, and also understanding the whole one-bad-apple-in-the-bunch philosophy, my fraternity, Sigma Chi, looked for a way to bring this tradition back in a safe way that people would still enjoy.
The way run night works is that the fraternities march into the Horner Gym to get their new guys and then stampede out, one house at a time, while the crowd goes crazy and cheers them on. Sigma Chi saw a perfect window to inject life into serenades once more.
After clearing our plan with Greek adviser Matt Deeg beforehand, we gave the crowd a bit of a show. When Sigma Chi came to rush out of the gym, we instead sent out one brave lone soul to stand before the audience.
He held out his hand, and a stand-up bass was delivered to him from the crowd. A silence of confusion swept over the steps of the gym, but as he started playing the bass line to the song Uptown Funk, the rest of the brothers came outside and joined him.
With a full band of instrumentation we played our own run night rendition of Uptown Funk, and the crowd went crazy. We recorded the event, but the screaming crowd in the video was too much for the microphone to handle. We did, however, record ourselves practicing it beforehand, which you can see in this video.
We finished up and charged into the night with the crowd roaring behind us. It is my hope that this could be the first step to bringing back serenades in a way that is safe, fun, and as Bill and Ted would say, Most Excellent.