The University of Arizona: Bobcats Senior Honorary

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James Allen
History and Traditions
Tradition Paper

Bobcats Senior Honorary

The University of Arizona is an institution of academic greatness, progressive social experiences, and brilliant research. As Arizona’s first, Land Grant University, it is home to many loving alumni who have built a rich and nationally competitive amount of school spirit and tradition. Though many traditions are visible and well known, such as the tale of John Button Salmon and his famous last words, “Bear Down,” there are many other intricacies and groups that exist on campus adding to the weave of the University’s collective traditions. One such organization is known as the Bobcats, a senior year honorary associated with the UA Alumni Association, that has developed in purpose since its inception in 1922 to today. Its purpose is to “preserve the unity and welfare of the University of Arizona by always being alert to guide in the right direction.” (Alumni Association) As one can imagine, this group has a particularly poignant role in the campus community.

To better understand the Bobcats, it is important to first learn how and why the organization first came in to being. At the beginning of the 20th century, many university student populations were protesting conditions at their institutions, often creating disfavor from wealthy contributors and the legislature. At the University of Arizona, one of these “conditions” was a tradition where all freshmen got their hair clipped and shaved as they got off the train that took them to school; the sole means of entrance and transport to the university. After World War 1, when the student populations dwindled to record lows, the returning students struggled to agree on and enforce this past tradition, and vast disagreement broke out. Instead, the freshly grown and restored class of 1919 decided to begin painting the freshmen’s heads green, which created a new wave of disagreement and arguing. The student body and administration fervently discussed the issue, and university officials made it clear that they wanted a new and improved program of hazing, with clearer benefits and reasons for doing such activities. To address this and calm the student body, the student officers held a meeting to create new traditions. Among others, freshmen could no longer escort women to athletic events, they had to enter dining and residence halls last, they had to escort the athletic teams and carry their baggage, and they could not lounge on the grass or steps of the administration building. Unfortunately this was not the end of the issues. Many members of the community had pressed the topic and believed there should be a return to pre-war hazing. Efforts soon after unfolded and led the university in to further turmoil. It was believed that the freshmen class of 1921-1922 would get their hair clipped randomly in the dead of night during the fall semester, and tensions were high. Finally, on Halloween evening, 1921, the men of the senior class struck the freshmen at their residence hall, starting fights and clipping hair. The men of the senior class had agreed that if any one of them were suspended, they would all strike together, a strategy that had been effective at other universities because it drastically decreased the universities standing and worth in the eyes of their peers. As expected, the senior men were suspended, and the whispers of strike were quickly becoming louder and louder. However, most students and members of the university truly wanted the best for institution, and so many meetings began to take place about how to avoid the strike. However, many of these meetings were happening at the same time and had no unified front or communication. The acting student president soon called a meeting for the entire student body in the University auditorium, where administration and faculty crashed the event and would not recognize the group to meet, therefore they went outside to the aggie building patio....
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