University at Albany Traditions

UAlbany students are the heart of the University community and their spirit and enthusiasm flows throughout the campus.  Many opportunities exist for students, faculty, and staff to not only build traditions, but to also share experiences that will become ever lasting memories of their time at UAlbany.  Below is a list of UAlbany traditions

Big Purple Growl:

Held annually in early February the Big Purple Growl is a UAlbany tradition that began in 1997.  The Ferocious Feast, organized by the Alumni Association, kicks off the festivities with lots of great food and fun in the PE Gym. The Growl usually features a doubleheader with both the women’s and men’s basketball teams playing home at the SEFCU Arena.   This event is an exciting fun-filled, spirited day for all members of the University and Alumni community.

Clash of the Quads:

UAlbany’s archivist Geoffrey Williams recalls a beloved tradition associated with the University at Albany back when it was called the New York State College for Teachers. The tradition began around 1913 and actually lasted into the 1960’s. It was a rivalry between the freshman and sophomore classes that eventually included upperclassmen, designated by different colors and mascots. The classes would also have their own class song, fight song and a large banner that featured their class year and mascot. Rivalry started on Campus Day, an event held in late October and lasted throughout the year until Moving-Up-Day just before Commencement.
Rivalry was revitalized in 2003 by UAlbany's Spirit Committee, a group that consisted of students, athletes, faculty and staff. Rivalry has been transformed into ‘Clash of the Quads’ and now takes place every September. Each of the five quads and University Apartments compete in a series of events, enjoying the challenge and relishing in the competition that will lead their team to victory. Among the list of events are kickball, egg-on-spoon relays, musical chairs, 3-legged races, volleyball and a tug of war.

Winners since 2003:

2003 – State
2004 – State
2005 – Dutch
2006 – Indian
2007 – University Apartments
2008 – Alumni
2009 – Dutch
2010 – State
2011 – Colonial
2012 – Colonial
2013 – Colonial

Cookie Day:

Reading Day is Cookie Day! Cookie Day is a UAlbany tradition that occurs every semester on Reading Day. UAlbany staff and members of the student Spirit Street Team hand out cookies as a token of “good luck” to students as they study for exams. Cookies are distributed in the Campus Center, Main Library, Science Library, Academic Podium, and study lounges in the Residence Halls. To quote Snoopy, “If you try to be a better dog, sometimes you get an extra cookie”. Become a fan of “UAlbany Cookie Day!” on Facebook.

Food for Finals:

Students sitting with candles at the Candle Lighting Ceremony

UAlbany faculty and staff stay up late each semester the night before final exams begin to serve breakfast to students who take a break from studying and stop into the nearest quad for a special Late Night Breakfast.

Homecoming, Fallbany, and Family Weekend:

The University’s first Homecoming Weekend was held October 31, 1953 and it featured a soccer game, punch party, and a dance. This first Homecoming appears to have been organized by the Senior Class, reuniting the Classes of 1951, 1952, and 1953.

Every October since then, the UAlbany campus becomes a hub of activity during Homecoming, Fallbany, and Family Weekend. Recent activities include free concerts and exhibits, walking and bus tours, a Comedy Night, athletic events, class reunions, student performances, Farmer’s Market, Touchdown Tailgate and much, much more. This weekend is organized by several University departments including Alumni Relations, Athletics, Communications and Marketing, and Student Involvement and Leadership.

Welcome Candlelighting Ceremony:

Students sitting with candles at the Candle Lighting Ceremony

Each year to begin the fall semester, all new students are encouraged to attend the Welcome Candlelighting Ceremony.  This outdoor event is held in the evening and is the official welcome to the University community. This ritual symbolizes the beginning of an incoming student’s collegiate career. Faculty, staff and representatives from the current sophomore, junior, and senior class attend and participate in the event to welcome all incoming students.  The program includes the ceremonial lighting of the University flame of knowledge, as well as a fabulous concluding fireworks display. This opening convocation has a long tradition at UAlbany.

Torch Night:

Students sitting with candles at the Candle Lighting Ceremony

Torch Night originated as the Torch Light Ceremony and Procession dating back to 1930. Records from this era suggest that, “The torch light procession lead to the administration [Draper Hall] steps where seniors handed down to juniors “the light of intelligence” and received from Miss Keating [Alumni Association President] the candle inducting them into the alumni association. The ceremony was intended to signal the accession of Seniors into the Alumni Association.”

The modern day Torch Night is held annually during Commencement Weekend in May. The program features a dramatic candle lighting ceremony, offering a time for graduates to reflect upon their experience at the University. The evening provides the opportunity for graduates to be welcomed into the alumni community, as well as the formal presentation of the senior torch to the junior class. The program also includes remarks from graduating seniors, a recognition of faculty members who have had an impact on the academic and personal success of students, a screening of the popular Senior Video, and concludes with a spectacular fireworks display. All graduating seniors, juniors, family and friends are invited to attend. The ceremony is held on the Academic Podium.

Spirit Friday:

Every Friday is Spirit Friday at UAlbany!  All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to wear school colors and/or apparel every Friday to show their school spirit and pride.  If community members are seen by a student Spirit Street Team member wearing school colors or apparel on Friday they will be recognized and rewarded with a variety of prizes.  The spirit campaign, UAlbany – Where’s Your Purple?! promotes this fun tradition.