L is a senior studying computer science at USC, and he also serves as the 2022 co-president of USC Makers, a project-based engineering club. Here he recounts the origins of the Makers Onion Tradition and its significance during the 2022 Makers Spring Retreat.
L: There was a man named Y, who was one of the founders of USC Makers in 2016. One of the most anticipated events of the semester was the Makers retreat, which was usually held at a venue off-campus. Later into this retreat while everyone was having a great time, some more intoxicated than others, Y decided that it would be a great idea to pass around a whole, raw onion and see how much of the onion the club could collectively consume.
Me: That’s disgusting! Did they actually eat it?
L: Yup! To his surprise and mine, most of the onion was gone. We even saw people who are usually very against onions take a bite. After the onion made its rounds, he handed the remainder of the onion to me and chose me to continue this spontaneous happening, which quickly became a Makers tradition.
Me: Wow, that’s fascinating. Are there certain criteria to become the next onion carrier or can it just be any old person?
L: Every retreat, the role of the onion bearer is passed on to someone that the previous bearer believes embodies the spirit of Makers – curiosity, determination, and an eagerness to get their hands dirty. This person is preferably younger, but there are no solid requirements.
As of April 2022, I am the fourth onion bearer, and I have the responsibility of carrying on this tradition for the next year and ensuring that the history of this tradition is not lost. The story of the Makers Onion Tradition has explicitly been orally recounted, and this is the first time that the tradition has been documented. Though this is not to say that it is guaranteed that the tradition will stay the same for the years to come; as oral histories go, change is often expected, and this documentation is purely meant to act as a snapshot of the Makers Onion Tradition in Spring of 2022 and not impede its natural progression.