This past week, a new exhibit titled Save the Date: Events and Traditions at Boston College is on display at the Gargan Hall Landing of Bapst Library. The exhibit features pictures and memorabilia from various events that have anchored the academic and social seasons over the years at BC. These annual customs range from convocations to class reunions, religious services, athletic contests, fairs, festivals, and dances. Some of these traditions have faded with time, while others have remained consistent and new ones have arisen. What unites all of these customs is their value in student life on campus and their reflection of BC culture.
After entering the library and walking up the grand staircase, this exhibit can be found in two glass display cases on either side of the landing. Both cases contain a series of informational cards organized chronologically by month. The cards have brief excerpts about various traditions at BC over the years and are accompanied by pictures and memorabilia from these events.
The first featured event is the Student Activities Fair from September 2014. At the start of each academic year, student groups, clubs, and organizations promote themselves with giveaways and other events at this outdoor fair on Stokes Lawn. In 2014, a student group called “Nights on the Heights” gave out frisbees, one of which is on display in this exhibit. This organization is a student-run initiative that organizes alcohol-free programming on campus. Beginning the exhibit with a more recent tradition made for an interesting dichotomy between some this piece and others along the gallery halls.
The next event featured is Family Day of October 1966 and ’67. In the ’60s, the Alumni Association had its members bring their children to campus for a football game and other activities such as sports drills, skating, and swimming. Pictures of some of these sports drills are on display. This tradition has lasted to now with similar game day events and even Admitted Eagle days in which prospective students, and their parents, arrive on campus to watch the game.
As the season turns, and some overworked students begin to look forward to the end of the semester, it was fitting that the exhibit show off a winter tradition. Every December, BC has its Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This event originated in the late ’70s on BC’s dustbowl. Today, it has grown to be a very popular event with music, hot cocoa, games, an ice sculpture, and Santa Claus. Featured is an invitation for the Christmas Tree Lighting of December 2001.
The next item on display is a program from the Dramatics Society Banquet in January 1915. BC’s Dramatics Society was one of the first student groups on campus, and it began each season with a banquet complete with a dinner, toastmaster, guests, and drama. To this day, the Dramatics Society is a campus mainstay with its enjoyable performances put on throughout the year.
Until the ’60s, BC held an annual Junior Prom each February. A student-edited magazine, Junior Pic, used to celebrate both the event and the junior class. The cover from their February 1953 issue is showcased in this exhibit.
Next is a picture from the celebrants from the Laetare Sunday Mass of March ’67. This Mass originated with the class of ’23, who asked local alumni clubs to join together for church services followed by communion breakfasts. Today, the Alumni Association hosts a Mass at Conte Forum, followed by a brunch with a guest speaker.
The Black Student Forum first sponsored an event known as Black Parents’ Weekend in April 1977. On display is the invitation and program for Black Family Weekend in 1998. This upcoming year, the 46th Black Family Weekend will take place April 24-28 and will feature events like a fashion show, a talent showcase, and a student-alumni basketball tournament.
Other events like Mother and Son Day were held every May during the ’30s and ’40s so that the families of freshman and sophomores could familiarize themselves with BC’s campus and each other. Exhibited is a ticket for this event in 1943. While this event may initially sound out of place, it clearly has its roots in the practice of today, as new students tour their families around campus at the start of the year, on game days, or on Parents’ Weekend.
The next picture depicts students moving into their dorms at Newton College of the Sacred Heart before it merged with BC. The school was a small women’s liberal arts college. The property later became the home of the BC Law School, as well as the freshmen dorms on Newton Campus. Move-in day has been an annual occurrence since Newton became a residential campus in the early 1970s. It may be comforting for some freshmen to know that people have been moving in to their dorms a mile and a half away from main campus for many decades. Another picture depicts a group of female students receiving their results for the housing lottery in March 1990. The housing process at BC used to require students to be physically present in Conte Forum to participate in the lottery system.
Featured Image by Jake Evans / Heights Staff
Correction: This article initially stated that BC became a residential campus in the early 1970s. It was, in fact, Newton campus that became residential at that time.