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Fountain dunks, serenading dot history of BU traditions

Feb. 2, 2001

Unofficial practices add to students'

'Baylor experience'

By KIMBERLEE BARBOUR

Reporter

A few traditions were left out of the celebrations this week. Unofficial traditions add to the Baylor experience but will not be found in the student handbook.

For instance, most students know to watch out on their birthday for fear of being thrown into the Vara Faye Daniel Fountain.

'On birthdays my friends and I would go out to ice cream or something first so they wouldn't suspect it as much,' said Jinohn Wekesser, a Lincoln, Neb., sophomore. 'We took them to the fountain blindfolded and had boys meet us there to help.'

The first person thrown in ultimately wanted revenge so everyone would wind up in the cold and shallow water of the fountain, she said.

Wekesser, now a residence assistant at Collins Residence Hall, and her hallmates all participated in the celebration during her freshman year.

She never got thrown into the fountain first because she had a summer birthday, but she said she was thrown in many times on her friends' birthdays.

The fountain involves many traditions, including one that pertains to stealing trays from the cafeteria.

Before graduation, many seniors slide down the top of the fountain on the borrowed trays.

Serenading on campus is another tradition that dates back to Baylor's early years. Students sing individually to woo a love interest or with their hallmates the first week during freshman year to meet other students.

'In 1946, my sister was serenaded by her suitor,' said Carol Johnson, an assistant in the Residence Life Office. 'He sang You are my Sunshine, and my father would always tease her about it.'

Each year the RA's plan a serenading time for the residents. The women of Collins serenade all of the guy's dorms, but this year they added choreography to the songs that were planned, Wekesser said. They only practiced the songs about 20 minutes before making the rounds.

The serenading was great in 'uniting of the campus community,' said Elizabeth Wallace, assistant director of residence life and student development coordinator.

It was always a tradition for the Penland Residence Hall men to dress in togas when they serenaded the women, said Scott Schlette, a Lewisville senior. Of course, they wore clothes underneath the togas. At the end of the serenade, one of the Penland residents always chose a woman from the audience to name 'Miss Penland.'

Though it is no longer practiced, women who lived in dorms threw their panties out of the side of the building during Welcome Week.

'It was known as 'the panty drop' and all of the women that I talked with about going to Baylor told me about it,' Wekesser said.

She heard that the girls started to put rocks in the sometimes elaborate panties, which led to the dismissal of the tradition.

'Baylor traditions are great because I met so many new friends during the serenading,' Jeremiah Kirklin, a Dallas freshman, said. 'I heard about being thrown into the fountain before I even came to Baylor.'