Smith College - Traditions - Academic Year Events

Academic Year Events

Convocation signals the start of the fall semester. For new students it is the first chance to experience Smith College's tradition and spirit. Likewise, for some returning students, the annual event is like a big, welcome-home party as well as an occasion for celebration and an opportunity for creative attire. House communities develop imaginative themes for group fashion, and Smith seniors put special touches on favorite hats to create their own unique "senior hats," to be worn for the first time at Convocation.

Mountain Day is observed early in the fall semester. The President of the College selects a crisp, sunny, beautiful autumn day when the leaves are in full color, and announces the cancellation of classes by having bells rung on campus at 7:15 AM on the chosen day. The eager anticipation of Mountain Day leads to intense speculation meteorology by students in the weeks leading up to the surprise announcement. Traditional observance of Mountain Day by students might involve New England road trips or outdoor pursuits, and college dining services provides box lunches to be taken off-campus.

Otelia Cromwell Day, named for Smith's first African-American student, began in 1989 to provide students with an in-depth program specifically addressing issues of racism and diversity. Afternoon classes are cancelled, and students are invited to participate in lectures, workshops, symposia and cultural events focused on a different theme each year.

Rally Day In February 1876, the College began an annual observance of George Washington's birthday. In 1894, a rally became part of the day's events, and the focus of the celebration became primarily patriotic rather than exclusively social—though always with a women's college twist. Students that year staged a mock debate on the subject, "Does Higher Education Unfit a Man for Domestic Life?" In 1906 the celebration was first referred to as Rally Day (although the name was not used officially by the College until 1992). In 1944, seniors made Rally Day the first public wearing of their graduation caps and gowns; since then, mortarboards have been replaced by wacky, often homemade hats. Today, the Rally Day Convocation is centered around a historical theme, and features a distinguished keynote speaker and the awarding of Smith College Medals to accomplished alumnae.

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