Tag Archives: college

One Fall

Original Script: Isang bagsak

Transliteration: ee-sang bawg-sack

Literal Translation: One fall

Smooth Translation: Everyone is in this together, and things won’t be accomplished without everyone all connected to each other.

Background: This saying was recently incorporated into one of the gestures and sayings used by USC Troy Philippines.  Members get into a circle and perform one coordinated clap whilst chanting the saying to symbolize their solidarity with each other and other members of the Filipinx community.

Context: This piece was told to me in person, during a USC Troy Philippines programming event.

This is similar to the English saying, “all for one, one for all” where it promotes the idea of solidarity amongst a group of people.  This saying is a direct reference to the political nature of Filipino history and how farmworkers needed to band together.  Created by Larry Itliong, he shared his ideas with Cesar Chavez during the Labor Movements of the 1960’s.  In this context, it is being used by a college Filipino organization in order to promote solidarity and connection between org members.  The political nature of the saying also seeps into USC Troy Philippines’ mission, as the organization also takes measures to advocate for Filipino political issues.

Collective Screaming During Finals Week

Background information: MD is a 21-year-old student at University of California, San Diego. He grew up in Hayward, CA, and is currently living near UCSD campus. Because most of his time at UCSD has been spent online, he has not had much time to engage in school traditions yet. 

MD: The night before finals week, I think everybody opens their window and screams at the same time. So you just let out all the stress you’ve been carrying through the whole quarter in that scream all together. And once everyone is done screaming at that specific time, you just carry on with your studying and whatever else you might be doing.

Me: I’ve definitely heard about traditions like that. Where did you learn about it? 

MD: I saw it on Reddit, I think. I probably was just looking up UCSD culture before I started going there, um, or after I decided to go there. I don’t really know (laughs). But I think it’s kinda similar to what a lot of schools do, like that’s probably why you know it too, like screaming on the quad or in a field or something. I think it’s fun to do something cathartic like that with all your classmates so you can all remember, that, like, you’re all in the same boat. It’s definitely very needed. 

Me: True, true. Have you done it yet this year? 

MD: I haven’t ever done it myself, and I never even heard anyone else do it when I lived on-campus. But to be fair, I only lived on campus for two quarters (laughs). 

This tradition is definitely not specific to UCSD, and I think that most colleges would have some form of this “catharsis” during finals week. It makes sense that this is such a widespread piece of folklore among college students, as it creates a feeling of connectedness and shared identity during a time when students are under a large amount of stress and may feel isolated as they focus on school work. I also thought it was important to note that, because of the pandemic, many people like MD have felt as though they are missing out out traditions and pieces of folklore because of the fact that they cannot communicate with others in the same way. 



Informant: I think this is like our second or third day into Hell Week, and we had had some kind of––we were in the courtyard, and they’d given us these giant bowls of chocolate pudding… And it turned into a food fight. So we had, like, just gone nuts, or you know… Spitting and throwing pudding at each other, and just tackling each other in pudding. So what the actives didwas, they put us in the middle of the courtyard in a group and hosed us down to try and get some of the pudding off, right? Well… They finally said, “Alright. The hose isn’t working. You guys go take a shower.” So what they made us do is we all get in the showers. So they had us all strip down, and the pledges all have the same clothes on. We all have camouflage pants, white underwear, and a white T-shirt. And they threw all of our clothes in a big pile… And… They let us take showers for the first time in like three days, and we were feeling pretty good. And then they shut the water off, and they started yelling and they’re like, “All right, you guys have thirty seconds or whatever to get clothes on and get to bed.” And we were just like, “What?” And we had no idea how to figure out whose clothes were whose. So you just grab whatever pair of underwear you found, threw them on. You try to find pants that fit you, put them on, and a T-shirt. And so you went from a nice hot shower into these ice cold––‘cause it’s January in LA and we’ve been outside getting hosed with cold water––so you’re putting on sticky… Chocolate-covered… Clothes, after a nice hot shower. And then you’re crammed into a tiny tiny room where we had to sleep like literally on top of each other, and we’re told to go to bed. So we’re like lying there in these gooey, cold wet clothes… That was just the worst night of Hell Week for me, ‘cause you just itched… But then you also just had the, you know, burrito eating contests where they designed this burrito to make you throw up. So they put everything in it including chewing tobacco. So it was like, you know, raw fish and fricken chopped up squid. And uh, whoever finished it first––and it was giant––got a beer. So… Everyone knew it was either gonna be me or [X] that was gonna win. ‘Cause most guys––there was, you know, guys were throwing up––cause most guys couldn’t keep it down. And [X] and I went at it, and I beat him and he was so bummed. So, that was that… And like they gave us a night in LA and we had to go out and come back with tributes. So they gave us a couple of cars and the goal was to end––this is the middle of the night. We had to go out into Los Angeles and come back with tributes to the Hell Masters. So my team found a street sign that had the name of one of our founders on it. Just coincidence, right? So other teams are coming in with like liquor bottles or whatever, and we walked in with this giant freaking California Department of Transportation road sign. And that stuff was just fun.


Interviewer: Did you enjoy Hell Week at all? 

Informant: I did, personally, ‘cause I like that stuff… When the Jackass Train left the station I was gonna be on it… I mean, I showed up a day late to Hell Week. [X] and I both did. So the Hell Masters threw everything at us. So when everyone else had to go running, you know, [X] and I had to run circles around them while eating a raw onion. But I just came from the mountains so I could have run all day. And we got a lot of respect from the actives by just rollin’ with everything they freaking threw at us. I just thought it was hysterical. 

Interviewer: Did it bring you closer to the other pledges?

Informant: Kind of. It was all about unity, you know?  Like the actives tell you, “You guys are one unit. If your pledge brother can’t make it, you help him out no matter what it is.” And that could be with like running or push-ups or whatever. A lot of the time it was just eating. I mean they’d try to make us overeat, and [X] and I ate freaking everyone’s food for them and there’s guys like throwing up. But, you know it’s… It’s not like you’re a soldier where somebody’s life is on the line and you’re there for them in their time of need. You’re not bonded in that way. There was never an episode where I can help somebody other than, you know, eating their hamburger. And I was just happy to get food. So it was less about, like, being there for your pledge bros, and it was more about proving yourself to the actives.


In their article “Crossing the Line,” Jennifer J. Waldron & Christopher L. Kowalski write, “Initiation rites and rituals are particularly important for men in sex-segregated environments… In the anthropological literature, [Don] Sabo suggested that male rites serve as a means for older players to persuade younger members, often through pain infliction, to conform to the social roles and appropriate behaviors of the team” (291-92). This text is specifically geared towards hazing on athletic teams, but can be applied to hazing within a fraternity, which is also a sex-segregated space. Hazing can be used to establish a hierarchy of power and authority, and to ensure the new members understand where they are ranked on the totem pole.

This informant, however, established a power of his own through the hazing process. Rather than be left feeling submissive and weakened, he felt it was a chance to prove himself to the actives and gain their respect. Thus, while hazing may be a way to put pledges “in their place,” so to speak, it is also a chance for a pledge to stand out. For those who want to prove themselves to the actives, and who fit a more stereotypically, hyper-masculine mold––who eat copious amounts of food, are physically fit, enjoy drinking a lot of alcohol, etc.––it can be a positive experience, and an “appropriate” rite of passage as they enter a hyper-masculine environment.


Source cited above:

Waldron, Jennifer J., and Christopher L. Kowalski. “Crossing the Line: Rites of Passage, Team Aspects, and Ambiguity of Hazing.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, vol. 80, no. 2, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009, pp. 291–302, doi:10.1080/02701367.2009.10599564.

Championing in the Writing for Screen and Television Department of USC School of Cinematic Arts

Main piece:

Student #1: It was like, the way people get into screenwriting is every screenwriting professor picks an application and has to fight for it. Um, and so every student has their “champion” who is the one who fought for them to get into this program, and then before you graduate they have to tell you who they are. 

Student #2: I heard the same version Student #1 heard but I didn’t hear it freshman year. I heard it at Admitted Student Day back as a senior. And there was like this panel of like upperclassmen getting ready to graduate and they were doing this Q&A and then one of them brought up the champions and they basically said what Student #1 said, but then they also said that there was like a room somewhere that they go to specifically to do the applications each year, to read them, and before we graduate they’ll take us to that room and be like ‘oh this is where you were chosen’ or something like that. 

Background: Student #1 and Student #2 are sophomore majors of the Writing for Screen and Television Program and USC School of Cinematic Arts. Although away from campus due to COVID-19, both of them were on campus and participating in its folklore the previous year. While Student #1 couldn’t remember where she heard the legend, she believed it was when she was on campus freshman year. Additionally, freshman year SCA students are assigned a “big”, an older student in the major who is meant to show them the ropes first semester, and are known to pass down lore to incoming students. As stated above, Student #2 heard it during Admitted Students Day. 

Context: This piece was brought to my attention through a text message Student #2 sent, requesting that we meet to discuss “SCA” (School of Cinematic Arts) folklore. She casually mentioned “like the rumor of having champions and the secret room where they read our applications”. I had never heard that rumor, and ended up meeting with her and Student #1 (via Zoom) to discuss it, and share the folklore that I knew in return. Both students called the championing a “legend”, which means they are unsure about the “truthiness” of it. They both seemed inclined to believe it to be true, or at the very least hopeful that some professor wanted them there and was looking out for them. 

Analysis: Championing is a Writing for Screen and Television major legend that serves as a way of making new members feel wanted in the community. People hear of championing either once they’ve been admitted to the school or when they first get there, a time that they are technically a member of the community even if it doesn’t feel that way yet. This liminality, accompanied by the fact that college in itself is a new scary space, has students looking for reasons to belong. Being told that they are special enough to fight for, and in fact, their membership is contingent on someone fighting for them, makes students feel more comfortable in the space, and induces a greater sense of validation and belonging. The legend of championing is accompanied by the knowledge (true or not) that it is not happenstance nor circumstance that led to their acceptance, but a completely intentional act. Additionally, many people are away from their parents for the first time once they attend college, and having a teacher “choosing” them inspires a greater sense of comfort as this can be analogized to their own relationships with mentors or other parental figures. It can also be interpreted as creating stronger bonds among the students themselves, as they are the “chosen” ones, specifically selected to be there when others were rejected. This “us vs. them” mentality creates a shared identity that can be used to inspire greater familiarity among new students, as well as students from older grades. As it is traditionally the older students who pass down this knowledge to the younger ones, the legend of championing can be used by older members to invite younger ones into the community. The addition of a “secret room” where the applications are read heightens the sensibility that the students are important and that the Writing for Screen and Television department itself is prestigious enough to warrant this kind of behavior, adding mystery to a process students are already familiar with, that of college admissions.

Auburn University – The Lathe Folk Belief


Informant CA, a current undergraduate student at Auburn University at the time of this collection, described a popular folk belief shared by university students. This belief had existed before CA became a student at the univeristy, however, CA learned about this belief only once they had become an undergraduate student themself.

The belief centers around a statue called The Lathe which is located on Auburn University’s campus. The Lathe dates back to the Civil War where it was used to manufacture military supplies for confederate soldiers. It was gifted to a sorority on campus and can be found on the side of Samford Hall.


The Auburn folk belief is that Auburn students can bring their significant other to The Lathe at midnight to test their faithfulness to one another. After they kiss next to The Lathe, if the wheel of the Lathe does not move then they have been faithful to each other and are believed to get married.


This folk belief is one of the many traditions that are known and shared across the student population at Auburn University. I feel that this particular belief speaks towards the cultural and communal values at Auburn Univerity. While its students come from all across the world, Auburn University is located in Alabama and, therefore, the “Bible Belt. ” Southern states are often known for their close affiliations with Christianity which shape “southern values.” While not all students would identify as religious or southern, the value of faithfulness is evident in this popular folk belief and run parallel with southern/religious values. Since folk beliefs create identity and culture, the values underlying this belief speak to Auburn’s identity and campus culture. After hearing this belief, I feel confident in assuming that being unfaithful to one’s partner would be frowned upon at Auburn. By providing couples with a way of “testing” their partner, this university folk belief is helping to ensure a continued value of faithfulness.