Clash of the Quads Set for September 16
Rich Ahronheim was a State Quad freshman in October 2003 when he joined about a dozen of his fellow quad members for a two-day fest of competitive events against a like number of resident students from Indian Quad. They were reviving in a small way a once-beloved UAlbany tradition that for about 50 years had spurred a friendly rivalry between segments of the student community.
Ahronheim, however, sensed this small re-birth had a big future. His foresight can be witnessed this Saturday, Sept. 16, when the Department of Residential Life, University Auxiliary Services and the Division of Student Success host an anticipated 1,000 students in the Clash of the Quads, beginning at 1 p.m. on Collins Circle.
Events will include an Obstacle Course, Bungee Run, Rock Climbing, Kickball, Egg Race, 3-Legged Race, Wheelbarrow Race, a Banner Competition, Twister, Volleyball, Tug-of-War, a Cereal Eating Contest, Jenga, and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-"Dane."
Ahronheim remembers the Clash's simpler beginnings, which nonetheless contained instant enthusiasm. "People that first year had a great time, playing kickball, a tug-of-war, running relay races and other events," he said. "You could see that it was a fun way for students to have some pride in where they lived, and that it was community-building for everyone."
The idea, originated by the students, faculty and staff who made up the UAlbany SPIRIT Committee, was expanded in 2004 to include resident students from all four uptown quads, the downtown Alumni Quad, and the "University Apartments" (consisting of Freedom Quad and Empire Commons).
"The other quads expressed an interest in competing in 2004, but we weren't prepared for the turnout," said Laurie Garafola, director of Residential Life. "There were a few hundred kids out there, and we ran out of tee-shirts."
The surprise was a pleasant one, however. Staff members from Residential Life and the Division for Student Success became as enthusiastic at the growth of the Clash of the Quads — which moved in 2004 to indoor and outdoor venues — as the students themselves. Ahronheim became a Clash participant and organizer after his freshman year when he became a student assistant as a sophomore and resident assistant as a junior — both on State Quad — and this year a student assistant at University Apartments.
"I help get people out, hype it up and do things like arrange photos because I've seen the Clash prompt people to get more involved," he said. "And I love that the University is bringing tradition back in a good way. It's the same with Fountain Day, which in the last two years has become a really solid event — a kind of carnival for the campus.
"From all that's happened here on campus with events such as these, I've developed such a great pride in the University — and that's just been added to by the success of the men's basketball team last year, and the women's volleyball team as well."
The institution's original campus student competitions were not between quads but class years, beginning with the students of the New York State College for Teachers around 1913, according to UAlbany archivist Geoff Williams. It eventually involved separate colors, mascots, fight songs and large banners, and lasted until the mid 1960s.
A banner competition became a drawing card for the Clash of the Quads as well in 2005, as turnout doubled to more than 600. "Students spend days working on banners, face painting and other identifying features associated with their quads," said Garafola. "There is a real camaraderie that you feel when you watch each group take the field in their quad-specific colors. It truly is a great event."
This year's Clash, featuring defending champion Dutch Quad (State won the first two years), once again had to add new events to accommodate increased student participation, said Holly Barker-Flynn, State Quad coordinator. "But the most popular events will still remain kickball, volleyball, relay races, and of course the cereal-eating contest," she said. "We've also added musical chairs and a DJ this time to provide a more festive atmosphere."
The Clash of the Quads kicks off at 1 p.m. sharp on Collins Circle and then at 4:15 p.m. moves to the Campus Center. For more information, visit Student Events.