Traditions and Special Events
How Do You Define a Laurentian?
While no two are alike, Laurentians share traditions and experiences that transcend class years and generations. Laurentians love adventure, they love celebrating the things that make them unique, and above all, they love supporting one another. They’ll also never say no to a Pub Cookie, or a Dana brunch date, or an opportunity to cheer, “Here we go, Saints!”
There are over 25 traditions that bond Laurentians to one another and shape the four years they spend on our campus. Some are as old as the University itself, some are more recent, and still others have changed over the years. Chances are you and your classmates will think of a new one! After all, our spirit of innovation as trailblazers and changemakers is our greatest tradition.
Our Matriculation ceremony officially welcomes first-year students and their families to our supportive and empowering community. It’s the first time your class gathers as a group and symbolizes the official start to your adventure at St. Lawrence.
After spending a year (or more) investigating the topics that spark their curiosity and motivate them to dig deeper, students present their research findings to our community on one day at the end of the spring semester. It’s both a celebration of and testament to the innovation and diverse passions among our student body.
A celebration of students’ academic and co-curricular achievements, this tradition dates back to 1869. Today, it symbolizes students “moving up” a row of pews in Gunnison Memorial Chapel to occupy the seats left open by the class ahead of them. It also includes the ceremonial “tapping” of new members of Omicron Delta Kappa, the leadership honor society.
After four years, your undergraduate adventure culminates in one momentous day--your commencement. It’s a day of celebration, reflection, and perhaps a few tears, as you reflect on the impact you and your classmates have made at St. Lawrence while looking forward to your brilliant futures ahead.
Celebrations with Classmates
On their first night on campus, members of the first-year class gather on the Brush Memorial Quad for an address from the president and a ceremonial lighting of candles meant to symbolize the candle in the wilderness that glows within all those who become Laurentians.
First-Year Program Cup
One of the first traditions you’ll take part in as a new member of the Laurentian community is the FYP Cup--a chance to enter into some friendly competition against your fellow first-years over the course of your first semester on campus. There are lawn games, trivia, and the much-anticipated song-writing contest, plus ways to earn points by attending events, readings, and presentations across campus.
One hundred nights before commencement, the senior class gathers in Gunnison Memorial Chapel to reflect on years passed and be together one last time before they flip their tassels in May.
Each spring, members of the graduating class vote on the Owen D. Young Outstanding Faculty Award, which is awarded to a professor who then gives the seniors their final lecture of their undergraduate careers. Past lectures have touched on the importance of social connections to overall health, intellectual humility, and cultivating a generosity and stewardship through the liberal arts.
Once final exams are over each spring semester, seniors come together for a final week of local adventures, First-Year Program reunions, and other events during their final days at St. Lawrence with one another before Commencement.
Every June, St. Lawrence graduates from near and far return home to our campus to reconnect with classmates, revisit memories and create new ones with the people that mean the most to them. One of the most anticipated events of Reunion Weekend is the parade of class years, where Laurentian pride from across generations is on full display. (Fun fact: Students can apply to work during this fun weekend!)
Special Student Moments
April 3 is the day ‘The St. Lawrence University’ was chartered in 1856. The occasion is recognized on campus, across the country and even around the world as Laurentians gather together to celebrate the University’s founding and honor our Universalist founders who believed in Canton and the liberal arts, and taught us that we can do so much more together than we ever can alone.
Make a Difference Day
Laurentians call the North Country home for four years and feel a responsibility to give back to the community while they’re here. Every fall, Volunteer Services coordinates several sites throughout Canton and neighboring towns for students to spend the day sprucing up and organizing.
Each year, our students celebrate each other’s uniqueness while strengthening ties to one another through the UNITY Project. It’s a national interactive art project that raises consciousness about the labels people give themselves and others and explores how those labels both support and limit building interconnected, interesting communities.
One weekend, 46 peaks, and at least one Laurentian on the summit of each. Every fall, students of all hiking abilities venture into the Adirondack Park with the Outing Club in pursuit of “bagging” a High Peak, one of 46 mountains over 4,000 ft. in the Adirondack range. Peaks vary in difficulty, but you’ll find a St. Lawrence student at the top of every one over the course of a single weekend.
Founded in 2006 by Victor Kai-Rogers '08, an international student from Freetown, Sierra-Leone, Kaleidoscope celebrates the diversity and inclusivity of our community with a series of musical performances, dances, poetry readings, and more. The International House (known as I-House) hosts this celebration every spring.
Just before students take their final exams and the fall semester draws to a close, Gunnison Memorial Chapel fills with the glow of candlelight and the warmth of the Laurentian community. Students, faculty, staff, and community members gather for a program of music and readings as they reflect on the year past and share well wishes for the one ahead. This tradition dates back to the 1920s.
Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Each year, the University celebrates the work and memory of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through community service, performances, and thought-provoking discussions.
When the last (or, at least, close to the last) flakes have fallen in Canton and buds appear on the trees, the Green House invites local craftspeople and musicians from across the region to share their talent with the campus community and highlight the rich cultural traditions of the North Country.
Route 11 Rivalries
When neighboring Clarkson University comes to St. Lawrence, the student section in nearly every sports venue-- most notably in Appleton Arena--is the only place to be. A much-anticipated event, the Laurentian and Canton communities prepare to sport their best Scarlet and Brown gear and cheer on the Saints as they march in against the Golden Knights.
Theme Dinners at Dana
Laurentians love to bond over a shared meal, especially if it has a delicious theme. Our exceptional dining services team arranges a variety of themed meals in honor of special events and holidays throughout the year. Favorites include the Adirondack dinner, featuring local dishes and ingredients, Canadian Thanksgiving, breakfast for dinner, and Super Bowl Sunday.
Each year, student groups work together to bring various multicultural events to campus to share their backgrounds and experiences with the campus and local communities. Recent celebrations have included Lunar New Year, Holi, Eid, Dia de los Muertos, and Diwali.
Fallfest and Springfest
Each semester, the Association for Campus Entertainment turns the intramural fields into a concert venue and welcomes bands, solo artists, and DJ’s from across genres to perform for our student body. Sometimes, students even perform a set as part of the opening act.
Diversity and Inclusion Week. Hunger Awareness Week. Pride Week. Teal Week. Our entire community is wildly passionate about raising awareness when it comes to a variety of critical issues the world is facing today.
Nearly every Wednesday night during the semester, students living in the International House (I-House) theme floor welcome everyone to join them for fun chats, baked goods, great tea, and thoughtful conversations.
There’s no such thing as bad weather at St. Lawrence—only opportunities to make the most of the snow Mother Nature throws our way. For Rail Jam, the Outing Club builds a rail on the Brush Memorial Quad where students can ski and snowboard on campus.