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Throwback Thursday: The Class Clash

Junior and senior classes are seen gathering on the lawn between Husted (at left) and Draper halls for 1915's Moving-Up Day. (Photo courtesy of University Archives

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 4, 2017) — Good-natured rivalry could easily blossom on an intimate campus of less than 1,000 students. Such was the case in 1912 when freshman and sophomore classes at the New York State Normal College gathered on the lawn of what is now the Downtown Campus in late May to show just how much progress each class had made in wit and wisdom over the other before they "moved up" another grade.

Within a couple years, the juniors and seniors wanted to get into the act on Moving-Up Day, just before Commencement, and did so. Each class was designated by different colors and mascots. Each would display its own class song, fight song and a large banner featuring their class year and chosen mascot.

In addition, seniors would relinquish their seats to the juniors, and so on down to the freshman. In 1913 the ceremony also began to involve class "scraps:" smaller group demonstrations of cleverness, such as dressing up in costume or performing snake dances on the lawn.

moving up day at UAlbany

This is progress? Members of an upper class demonstrate their worldly sophistication at Moving-Up Day 1918. This seems to be, left to right, Uncle Sam, Lucifer, the German Kaiser (we were still at war) and a British subject who looks a lot like Harpo Marx.

By 1963, however, the enrollment of the now University at Albany had more than quadrupled, including a growing number of graduate students, and times had changed as well, removing many student traditions. "Traditions are important to some of the older people," said one underclassman, "but we just do things we want to do, and stuff like 'no freshman can look Minerva in the face,' or patting her nose or something, is gone." Moving-Up Day gave way to "do your own thing."

That attitude dominated on campus for four decades, but in 2003, friendly rivalry was revitalized by UAlbany's Spirit Committee, a group of students, athletes, faculty and staff. The ‘Clash of the Quads,’ which takes place every September, matches each of the five quads and University apartments in a series of competitions, among them kickball, egg-on-spoon relays, musical chairs, 3-legged races, volleyball and a tug of war.

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