Since the 1870s, faculty members and students have been sporting the Academic Gown around campus to signify their membership in the Order of the Gownsmen. Students can first be inducted into the OG after their freshman year if they have achieved a set grade point average. Belonging to the OG offers students many perks such as priority room draw and class registration just to name a few.
“The Passing Hello” traces its history back to General Josiah Gorgas, the second Vice Chancellor of the University, who apparently saluted every student he met and lifted his hat in greeting ladies. Now Sewanee students, faculty members, and residents tend to greet one another on the street even if they are complete strangers! You would be hard pressed to make it from your dorm to the dining hall without exchanging at least a few Passing Hellos.
You can’t be on campus longer than a few minutes before you notice that Sewanee students are dressed up for class, which is atypical for most American colleges or universities. At Sewanee, students elect to participate in the Class Dress tradition in order to show respect for their professors and the education they are receiving. Class Dress symbolizes that during your four years at Sewanee, academics are your top priority. After all, you wouldn’t go to work in your pajamas now would you? Class Dress varies with the seasons but typically men can be seen wearing khakis, a collared shirt or coat and tie; female students typically wear slacks or a skirt and a nice top or a dress. Flip flops, however, are the student body’s footwear of choice.
Upon your matriculation as a student at Sewanee, you will be charged with signing and upholding the Honor Code. Sewanee’s Honor Code has been in existence since the 1870s and has always been maintained and administered by the student body. One especially unique aspect of the Sewanee Honor Code is that it applies to all aspects of student life on campus, not just academics. In signing the Honor Code, you are pledging on your honor not to lie, cheat or steal or more simply put, to live honorably as a part of the Sewanee Community.
In a folk story it is said that the domain of the University of the South is a place so beautiful angels dwell within its the gates. These angels protect all inhabitants and visitors on the Domain. Sewanee Angels are more than happy to become your guarding angel and protect you off Domain as well. In order to pick up your angel you must tap the roof of your car as you drive through the gates when departing campus. Upon your return, you tap the roof of your car to release your angel.
As an undergraduate, it is considered bad luck to step on the seal of the University of the South which is located inconveniently in the main entry way of All Saints’ Chapel. It is said that students who step on the seal will not graduate within four years. To this end, students will go out of their way to avoid the seal even while processing in to the Chapel for Commencement. There is, of course, a way to break the curse but you will have to come to Sewanee to find out that secret!