A Fresh View: Brown Traditions!


Hello Everyone!

My name is Emily Schell, and I’m the freshman behind “A Fresh View.” You get to read my attempts to tell jokes and blog for the next year – but at least hopefully you will get something out of it! While you all struggle through the college application process, I get to struggle through the trials and tribulations of being a freshman. So there you have it: neither of us is alone. This blog is just a little bit of Brunonia to brighten up your week!

SPRING. IT’S HERE. Maybe for some of you Texans or tropical kids that doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but for us Brunonians on the East Coast, the arrival of spring means the return of the Clubmaster sunglasses, the revival of colored shorts, and the revitalization of the Main Green (yes, people really do sit on it like you see in the pictures!) And with the coming of Spring also means the coming of something else (suntans?) …. SPRING WEEKEND! ☺ I’m not quite sure what to expect of Spring Weekend myself, I being just a lowly freshman, but I’ll be sure to keep you all posted! I figured that since Spring Weekend is coming up, I’d take this opportunity to tell all of you fabulous people of the myriad of traditions you’d get to be a part of if you chose to come to Brown! (This is the part where all the still undecided seniors go to click the “Commit” button… Kidding, kidding!)

I’m just going to list some of the traditions, because some of them I haven’t been a part of yet (Spring Weekend being one of them) and some of them are a bit less important than others. These are just the big ones! And if you don’t like any of them (which I doubt), Brown is the kind of place where you can start a tradition of your own!

(1) Van Wickle Gates: You’ve seen them on every piece of Brown mail ever! You’ve witnessed their beauty through some hipsterly Instagramed picture! Maybe you’ve even wanted to touch the gates to see what material they are ACTUALLY made of (hey… I did…). Well now you get to walk through them too – but only twice. Brown opens the Van Wickle Gates, the majestic doors to Narnia, only twice a year – on Convocation and Commencement. Convocation is when the freshman class rushes in excited throngs through the fairly thin gap that are the gates (so it goes pretty slowly I’ve heard) to usher in the beginning of their Brown experience. After that, the President is supposed to give a rousing Convocation speech on the Main Green and there is happiness and frolicking all around! I said “supposed to” because I don’t actually know. This year the freshman class had an interesting Convocation – ours got rained out (yes, rained out….bummer, right?) so we actually just got to go through the gates the day AFTER Convocation on our own time. I walked through with a group of my friends and it was still fairly epic… but it wasn’t quite as awesome as the real thing I’d imagine. Don’t worry – that’s never actually happened before as far as I can tell in Brown’s history, so I seriously doubt this will happen to you! Besides, I’ve got a second shot at the fanfare that is walking through the gates in my senior year. During Commencement, we all graduate and that’s fine and dandy…but then we get to walk out of the gates, out of the loving protection of Brown’s “arms,” and into the REAL WORLD! Now there’s some symbolism for ya…

(2) Josiah S. Carberry: Okay, so this guy is supposed to be a fictional professor for Psychoceramics (the study of cracked pots.) He was founded in 1929. So basically…the running joke has been around for a little while and I’m not quite as familiar with the story behind Josiah himself. However, two things I am familiar with are Josiah, the name of the Brown University Library online database, and the amazing Jo’s, the late night grill, salad, and snack bonanza extraordinaire. Jo’s has actually helped my group of friends and I establish a small tradition of our own – the Wednesday night 1:30 Jo’s “spicy with” run. Basically we go on Wednesday night when the only people there are either people desperately stuffing their face with stuffed chicken delight to make up for a horrific night of studying in the SciLi or US – eating “spicy withs” because, why not?

(3) Halloween Midnight Organ Recital: Not into organ? Don’t care. You better go to this anyway. Seriously – this is an amazing experience that I’m so happy my friends took me to earlier this year. You all get dressed up in your Halloween garb and after a fun night of doing Halloween related things, you all crowd into Sayles Hall to listen to an awe-inspiring (you think I’m kidding…) mix of Halloween-themed organ music being played on the largest remaining Hutchings-Votey organ in the world (don’t worry, I had to go to Wikipedia for that… I don’t just know that.) It really is a cool experience, so bring friends on down to Sayles, bring some pillows and blankets because it goes from midnight to pretty late, and prepare to have an awesome last few moments of Halloween!

(4) Naked Donut Run: I had the unfortunate displeasure to NOT see this, because I didn’t really study in the libraries when this all was going on first semester (its okay, I won’t miss it now) Basically, because Rhode Island is the home state for Dunkin Donuts and because we can, a group of naked people always stands outside of the libraries (SciLi, the Rock, and the CIT) giving out Dunkin Donuts to stressed out students around Reading Period as a little perk up. I’ve heard that it’s very effective and especially hilarious (or maybe a bit awkward too?) when you see your friends participating on the naked side of things. However, if nakedness is something that you are not comfortable with – DON’T WORRY! You really do not have to participate in this – nobody is going to force you to (1) go to a library or (2) force you to eat a donut/see a naked person. Nothing at Brown is ever about being forced anyway, so if any of these traditions make you uncomfortable in any way – do not feel pressured to be a part of them because you absolutely do not have to!

And last but not least… (5) SPRING WEEKEND! I’ll be completely honest, I have no idea what to expect for this weekend. I’ve heard its crazy. I’ve heard its some shenanigans. I’ve heard its chill. And I’ve heard its some combination of the three. Whatever Spring Weekend has in store for me and my friends, I know I’ll sure be ready for it! Also…we have Kendrick Lamar and A-Trak (among other amazing artists) coming, so that in itself is a reason to be really, really excited for it!

I hope those traditions get you excited about (1) going to Brown or (2) applying to Brown, because they should! Brown is a school full of awesome people and awesome traditions – and I hope that some of those awesome people and I can make a tradition of our own someday ☺

As always, if you all have any questions, want me to cover a specific topic, or just want to rant about the college application process, feel free to shoot me an email at emily_schell@brown.edu.

Ever true to Brown,

Emily Schell


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