The Quick 10: 10 Strange College Traditions


Most colleges have a campus-specific tradition or two that you simply must participate in before you graduate. Here are a few of them - be sure to leave a comment and tell us what your college or alma mater does!

1. Naked Quad Run - Tufts University, Medford, MA.
I don't need a special day to run around naked, but apparently they do at Tufts. On the night before winter reading period, many Tufts students throw off the shackles of clothing all the way from West Hall to the Residential Quad. The tradition originated when Tufts, an all-male school, and Jackson College, an all-female school, were combined to create the Tufts we know today. Many young men, angry at the flagrant display of women's rights, took matters into their own hands, or, er, other parts, by streaking in front of the President.

2. Cadet Versus Civilian Snowball Fight - Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
Just as Tufts used to be all-male, Virginia Tech used to be all Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). In honor of its heritage, civilians and cadets engage in a no-holds-barred snowball fight during the first big snowfall of every year. If you're at VT, see snow, and hear a fire alarm, you best run for cover. The cadets are coming. Check out the 2010 fight:

3. Healy Howl - Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

By far, without a doubt, undeniably, incontrovertibly, irrefutably, The Exorcist was one of the scariest movies ever made. Few, however, know that it was filmed in part on the Georgetown campus. The film is showed on Copley lawn every Halloween, and is scheduled to end at around midnight. Students then process to the cemetery near Healy Hall for the Healy Howl, a tradition that's almost as creepy as that little girl's head turning all the way around.

4. The Foot of Good Luck - Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Although there’s probably a more formal name for it, this tradition involves rubbing the foot of the stature of James Dwight Woolsey, the president of Yale from 1846 to 1871, for good luck. At least, that's what I was told when I took the tour. Naturally, of course, I rubbed the foot, hoping to get into Yale. I later learned that an unwritten "graduation requirement" for Yale students involved peeing on the foot at night. I just don't think telling a high school senior to touch the foot of a statue that everyone's "christened" is a nice thing to do.

5. Spree Day - Clark University, Worcester, MA.
Waking up at my college can mean bright light and a splitting headache. Waking up at Clark University on Spree Day means the party has just begun. On a random day selected by school administrators, classes are spontaneously cancelled and the entire student body celebrates on the Green. The event usually features bands, but has also been known to include elements such as hot air balloons, giant slides, and other trappings conducive to college fun.

6. Graduation Requirements - Duke University, Durham, NC.
There are a number of unofficial graduation requirements at Duke. Here are a few:
1) Climb Baldwin Auditorium. This was easier to do last year, as construction required scaffolding that ran to the top.
2) Gain access to the university steam tunnels. This was similarly easier to do last year, because they boarded them up this year.
3) Drive backwards twice around the East Campus circle. This is as easy to do this year as it was last year.

7. Hello Walk - University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.
In the 1920s, University President Alfred Upham insisted on greeting everyone on the walk from his house (where the current Campus Christian Center is located) to the Administration Building. He went so far as to make the greeting mandatory. Today, while hellos are no longer obligatory, many choose to continue the tradition of friendliness. Had Holden Caulfield been a real person, and had he attended U of I, he would have been pissed.

8. Fourth Year Fifth - University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
Nothing says "college" like being able to consume your own weight in alcohol. Seniors at UVA might not be able to do that, but they can certainly try. My best friend, an undercover Cavalier, informs me that during the last home football game of the season seniors try to drink a fifth of alcohol, which is around 17 shots. With a tradition like that, I don't know if he'll survive to be my friend much longer.

9. Birthday Dunk - Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA.
Everywhere else in the United States, a birthday means a cake and a DVD box set of Planet Earth. At Occidental, however, it means you're thrown into the chilly Oxy Fountain. The best part of the tradition is that birthday students never know when it's coming. You could be dragged out of your bed, or a class. There is only one certainty: you're going in.

10. Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day - Reed College, Portland, OR.
Finally, a college that appreciates the most underrated element as much as I do! At Reed College, Nitrogen, seventh on the periodic table, is celebrated annually with Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day. The tradition involves a daylong festival of free food, entertainment, and a haiku recital. You also get all the free nitrogen you can fit in your pockets.


11 Masks That Will Keep You Safe and Stylish

Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods
Design Safe/Designer Face Covers/Its All Goods

Face masks are going to be the norm for the foreseeable future, and with that in mind, designers and manufacturers have answered the call by providing options that are tailored for different lifestyles and fashion tastes. Almost every mask below is on sale, so you can find one that fits your needs without overspending.

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Home Essentials

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2. 3D Comfort Masks 5-Pack; $20 (25 percent off)


The breathable, stretchy fabric in these 3D masks makes them a comfortable option for daily use.

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Triple Grade

This cotton mask pack is washable and comfortable. Use the two as a matching set with your best friend or significant other, or keep the spare for laundry day.

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Don’t let masks get in the way of staying active. These double-layer cotton masks are breathable but still protect against those airborne particles.

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5. Washable Protective Cotton Face Masks 2-pack; $13 (35 percent off)

Its All Good

Avoid the accidental nose-out look with this cotton mask that stays snug to your face.

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6. Washable 3D Masks 12-pack; $24 (44 percent off)


With this 12-pack of protective masks, you can keep a few back-ups in your car and hand the rest out to friends and family who need them.

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7. Reusable Dust-Proof Mask with 5 Filters; $22 (45 percent off)

Triple Grade

This dust-proof mask can filter out 95 percent of germs and other particles, making it a great option for anyone working around smoke and debris all day, or even if you're just outside mowing the lawn.

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8. Reusable Fun Face Cover / Neck Gaiter (Flamingo); $20

Designer Face Covers

Channel some tropical energy with this flamingo fabric neck gaiter. The style of this covering resembles a bandana, which could save your ears and head from soreness from elastic loops. Other designs include a Bauhaus-inspired mask and this retro look.

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9. Seamless Bandana Mask; $8 (52 percent off)

Eargasm Earplugs

This seamless gaiter-style mask can be worn properly for protection and fashioned up into a headband once you're in the car or a safe space. Plus, having your hair out of your face will help you avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth before washing your hands.

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Design Safe

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Its All Good

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

15 Facts About Babe On Its 25th Anniversary

James Cromwell in Babe (1995).
James Cromwell in Babe (1995).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

It's hard to believe that it has been 25 years since a tiny pink piglet named Babe stole the heart of audiences around the world, and turned many of them into lifelong vegetarians (more on that later). What’s almost even harder to believe is that the heartwarming story of a pig who wants to be a sheepdog was partially ushered into existence by George Miller, the same man who brought us the Mad Max franchise. Here are 15 things you might not know about the little piggy that could.

1. James Cromwell thought the original idea for Babe was silly.

When actor James Cromwell first heard about Babe, which is based on Dick King-Smith's novel, “I thought it sounded silly,” he told Vegetarian Times. “I was mostly counting the lines to see how much of a role the farmer had.”

2. Farmer Hoggett has just 16 lines in Babe.

But by that point, Cromwell was already sold on the script, intrigued by what he called the “sophisticated yet pure-of-heart piglet.” And he clearly made the right call: The part earned Cromwell an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

3. It took 48 different pigs to play the role of Babe.

Because pigs grow quickly, the crew utilized four dozen Large White Yorkshire piglets throughout the course of filming, shooting six at a time over a three-week period. A total of 48 pigs were filmed, though only 46 of them made it to the screen.

4. Babe also featured one animatronic pig.

Animal trainer Karl Lewis Miller seemed almost embarrassed to admit that they did have one animatronic pig play Babe, too. This is the pig they used for wide shots—when there was at least 15 feet surrounding Babe all the way around, and no place for Miller to hide.

5. Babe is a girl.

While this is never explicitly stated in the movie, because a male pig’s private parts would have been visible on film, all of the pigs used for filming were females.

6. In all, there were 970 animals on the set of Babe.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Karl Lewis Miller—who had 59 people assisting him—said that, all told, there were 970 animals used for the film, though only 500 of them actually made it into the movie. This included pigs and dogs, of course, plus cats, cows, horses, ducks, goats, mice, pigeons, and sheep, too. Baa-ram-ewe indeed!

7. Babe is also Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory.

In addition to voicing Babe, voice actor Christine Cavanaugh—who passed away in December 2014—lent her vocal chords to more than 75 projects over the years, including the title role in Dexter’s Laboratory, Chuckie Finster on Rugrats, and Gosalyn Mallard on Darkwing Duck.

8. Babe was banned in Malaysia.

Not wanting to upset its Muslim community, to whom pigs are haram, Malaysia banned the family flick from screening in its theaters. But its proscription didn’t stick; the film was released on VHS about a year later.

9. Pork product sales dropped in 1995.

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

In December 1995, just four months after Babe hit theaters, Vegetarian Times ran a story about the problems facing the pork industry. Among the factors contributing to the industry’s slump, according to writer Amy O’Connor, was “the motion picture Babe, featuring an adorable porcine protagonist and a strong vegetarian message.” She went on to note that, “This year, the U.S. Department Agriculture showed stagnant demand for pork, while retail sales of canned meats such as Spam hit a five-year low.”

10. Sales of pet pigs increased following the release of Babe.

In The Apocalyptic Animal of Late Capitalism, author Laura Elaine Hudson is unable to substantiate claims that pork sales dropped a full 25 percent in the U.S. following the release of Babe, as some sources claimed, but she did find that sales of pet pigs increased—as did, eventually, the number of abandoned pigs.

11. Babe turned many viewers into vegetarians.

Babe’s popularity—and its main character’s adorableness—led to many fans of the movie (particularly young viewers) adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. The practice became so widespread that it was dubbed “The Babe Effect,” and fans of the film who went meatless became known as “Babe vegetarians.”

12. James Cromwell is a "Babe vegan."

Among those individuals whose eating habits were altered by Babe was the movie’s human star. Though he had been a vegetarian decades before, Cromwell “decided that to be able to speak about this [movie] with conviction, I needed to become a vegetarian again.”

13. Mrs. Hoggett was aged up for Babe.

Magda Szubanski stars in Babe (1995).Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Magda Szubanski, who plays the farmer’s wife Esme, was only 34 years old at the time of the film’s release. She logged lots of time in the makeup chair in order to pass as the wife of her then-55-year-old co-star.

14. Jerry Goldsmith was hired to score Babe, but was replaced.

Jerry Goldsmith wrote a good deal of the music for Babe, but he and George Miller’s ideas for what it should sound like did not mesh. So Goldsmith was replaced by Nigel Westlake.

15. Babe earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Among Babe's seven Academy Award nominations (yes, seven) was a nod for Best Picture, which pit the pig film against an impressive lineup that included Sense and Sensibility, Il Postino, Apollo 13, and Braveheart (which took home the award). The film did win one Oscar: it beat out Apollo 13 for Best Visual Effects.

This story has been updated for 2020.