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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

Spring Day

Spring Day celebrated the day on which the seniors first wore their caps and gowns with a snake dance on the Middle Campus by the newly-costumed class and a humorous speech by a senior. As the Brown Daily Herald of March 26, 1902 remarked, “This term is the time for many seniors to make their work as light as possible and to thoroughly enjoy the remainder of their course.” It became a tradition of Spring Day for the class to present its “mascot,” a plaster plaque or sculpture which made a statement on some aspect of student life or political happening. Two of the mascots were found stored on the Brown campus, and have been preserved. The mascots were often described in some detail in accounts of the Spring Day festivities. Among the mascots of Spring Day have been: in 1914, “September Morn” draped in a barrel; in 1918, a Liberty Loan bond of the third issue; in 1920, a plaster ship labelled “Reconstruction” depicting a senior in cap and gown at the steering oar and a chained Bolshevist in the seat; in 1921, Charles Evans Hughes 1881 riding a “G.O.P.” elephant; in 1932, a scene in which a chart of “Brown Securities, Ltd.” showed a marked decline in student activities, while a figure labelled “Student Publications” pointed a pistol at his head, one with a lyre labelled “Glee Club” jumped through a window, and the Brown bear lay dead with his feet in the air. (The cause of this debacle seemed to be the sign on the President’s Office which read “Gone to China,” as indeed he had.); in 1933, a plaque on which an infant holding a pen rode Pegasus in combat with a soldier on a tank in front of the State House, while a Communist “boogeyman” loomed in the background – a commentary on the State’s reaction to the peace campaign which had been conducted by the Brown Daily Herald. In 1934 there were two plaques, one showing the college infirmary full of suffering students, the other a desk clerk at the John Hay Library with a stop watch, the better to charge fines. Spring Day exercises became part of Junior Weekend in 1935 and continued to be until World War II intervened.

The Women’s College had its own Spring Day, initiated by the Class of 1922. The festivities consisted of a breakfast followed by chapel exercises at which acting dean Anne Crosby Emery Allinson, honorary member of the Class of 1922, and Alfred H. Jones, chosen “favorite professor,” spoke. A procession marched to Sayles Gym, where the Spring Day orator, Leota Lyon ’22, delivered a witty speech, and unveiled the class mascot, a pot of gold. Later traditions were the “Senior Sigh” at the chapel exercises and the speech by a favorite professor elected annually by the students. Women students ceased the observance of Spring Day in 1963.

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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