Only at Kenyon

Let us now praise tribal bonds.

The trestle, with its subversive allure. The urge to catapult drenching bombs off dorm roofs. Philander's Well, and the primal streams that watered it. The Scrotum Pole, and the primal screams that vaulted it.

We are talking about Kenyon traditions here. No, not the College's gown-clad ceremonies and officially sanctioned rites of passage. We are celebrating the unofficial and the antic, the juvenile and faintly perverse: the rituals and taboos, collective trials and persistent superstitions, the rites (and wrongs) that students have invented for themselves, generation after prankish generation.

Why does one touch the post (aka the Scrotum Pole) between the College gates (aka the Gates of Hell) for luck?

What led that goodly race of Kenyon men to hold an annual springtime ceremony devoted to anointing the A**hole of the Year?

These are complex anthropological questions. Every far-flung island has customs that enact deep-seated fears, express elemental yearnings, and enforce cultural norms. This business of coming of age, whether in Samoa or Gambier, always deals in primal stuff.

Rather than dissect or psychoanalyze, however, we aim here simply to present some of that stuff, self-reported by the natives--i.e., you. Last fall, in the Kenyon News Digest (our e-mail newsletter), we asked alumni to send us their memories of "unofficial traditions." You responded with anecdotes that give a glimpse of, um . . . that offer insights into, er . . . well, we'll let the anthropologists finish this sentence.

Suffice it to say that you provided ample evidence that "community" at Kenyon exists, and endures, partly because students create it and perpetually renew it--effortlessly, just by being young.

Enjoy this sampling of self-made traditions. And send us more.

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