Traditions

Traditions—some sacred, some silly—are part of every Brown student’s experience

Here are a few enduring customs that provide an insight to life on campus:

  • The iconic Van Wickle Gates on the Quiet Green open only twice per year: inward for Convocation, when first-year students walk in and are welcomed by a gathering of the Brown community, and outward for Commencement, when graduating seniors process out past alums, family, friends and others. According to superstition, any Brown student who passes through the gates more than these two times will be cursed with bad luck.
  • Each year since 1960, students crowd onto the College Green for Spring Weekend Concerts, sponsored by the student-run Brown Concert Agency. Historical acts include Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and R.E.M. Among more recent performers are The Shins, Wilco, the Roots, The Flaming Lips, M.I.A., Nas, Of Montreal, MGMT, and Snoop Dogg.
  • One of Brown’s most well-known former faculty members—professor of psychoceramics (the study of cracked pots) Josiah S. Carberry—never actually existed. But his name lives—Carberry is the namesake for the beloved late-night eatery “Josiah’s” and for the Brown library online catalog.
  • Students gather every Halloween at midnight in Sayles Hall for the annual organ concert. Blankets and pillows in hand, students gather on the floor of the vast hall and listen to the university organist play a selection of appropriately spooky tunes on the largest remaining Hutchings-Votey organ in the world. A similar assembly happens right before winter break, when many of Brown’s singing groups perform holiday themed concerts in Sayles.

Besides these highlights, plenty of other traditions have developed in Brown’s nearly 250 years of history. Undoubtedly, a connection to the university’s past enriches the campus culture of the present and points the way to its future.