At Eckerd, some traditions are steeped in pomp and ritual; others are offbeat and creative. Here is a look at some of the more popular campus traditions.
Ceremony of Lights
The annual Ceremony of Lights marks the beginning of every freshman year, when the flame from the Lamp of Knowledge is passed along by hand-held candles until the darkened McArthur Gymnasium glows in soft light. As President Donald R. Eastman III has said, “These are the first steps toward becoming the men and women you want to be.”
The last two weeks of spring semester are chock-full of activities dubbed Springtopia: cookouts, outdoor concerts, water slides at the Waterfront, charity events such as Relay for Life, games like innertube water polo, and more.
Every fall, Eckerd Community pets get a special blessing on the day of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Thanksgiving Day Dinner
Since the average student is a thousand miles from home, the Dean of Students hosts a formal catered Thanksgiving Day dinner for those who stay on campus. Faculty and staff also participate. After dinner there are games, crafts and football on TV.
Pitchers with Professors
Monthly Friday happy-hour gatherings at The Pub are organized by ECOS so students can interact informally with professors over free beer (for those 21 and over) or root beer (for those under 21) and free food.
Students throw a festive costume party at a favorite downtown St. Petersburg venue each year to celebrate Halloween.
An Eckerd College tradition since the 1970s, the B.S. Ballet brings together students to write, create, direct and perform a parody of campus events and various topics that occur throughout the year.
Kon Tiki Raft Race
Dating back to the 1980s, the Kon Tiki Raft Race gives students a chance to show off their creative side with zany homemade watercraft.
Festival of Cultures
Organized by International Student Services and held each year in Hough Quad, Festival of Cultures is the most ethnically colorful campus event of the year, featuring native food, music, national costume and history.
Students take a break from studying during finals week to be served breakfast by staff and faculty members in Cafe Bon Appetit.
Because we were among the first colleges in the country to allow pets in residence halls, we hold a separate Pet Commencement a few days before the regular Commencement, complete with diplomas for each pet.
A solemn ceremony held in Wireman Chapel on the eve of Commencement, Baccalaureate features a concert choir and remarks by the College President.
Eckerd’s motto is ThinkOutside, so it’s fitting that Commencement is held early on a Sunday morning in May under a large white tent on the South Recreation Field. Since it’s right next to South Beach, a post-Commencement jump into Boca Ciega Bay is also a tradition for some students. It’s not uncommon for graduates to accept their diplomas in bare feet or accompanied by their furry, feathery or scaly pet friends.