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Freshman "Guidance" took place on a wide range of subjects
Rice students traditionally have been second-to-none in finding creative  rites of initiation and letting  off steam.
guidance1.jpg (9339 bytes)In these days of Political Correctness on American college campuses, when, at some venues, Diversity is sought after as the Holy Grail, and any insolicitude is likely to be condemned as Insensitivity--the Cardinal Sin, the behavioral antics of Institute days seem outlandish by comparison.  But there always was a pattern.  In most fraternal groups, traditions and rites of passage exist to facilitate entry into the group and convey a common world-view.  At Rice, even the relatively silly hazing of the 50s tended to celebrate the Individual.  One measured success at Rice much more by academic accomplishment than by group affiliation and popularity.  A person could be quite successful, by external standards, while remaining outside any "In" group.  Individuality historically was respected--not considered "weird".  (Therein, perhaps, lay the gulf which always seemed to separate, and cause irritation, between the student bodies of Rice and Texas A&M--an irritation which history shows occasionally boiled over.)
sammy57.jpg (10154 bytes)The group affiliation rites of Rice, as they have evolved over the years, have focused on three major facts of life at the Institute:  one, the population of men drastically outnumbered the women; two, the amount of time required, and pressure imposed, by even an average academic courseload was immense, and, three, the average Rice freshman typically had tended to focus on academics in high school to the detriment of his social life. Socialization, fraternization, and letting off steam-- particularly letting off steam-- were of paramount importance.  The system typically was highly imperfect in getting the sexes together in any relaxed, comfortable way-- before the institution of co-ed residential colleges, the men's and women's quads seemed as two armed camps on opposite sides of the campus.  Things are drastically improved on that front, nowadays, but the entering freshman weanie typically remains a couple social eggs short of a dozen, and the workload is as pressure-filled as ever.
Some of the traditions at Rice which can be recalled by alumni of a certain age, include:
owlbow57.jpg (9503 bytes)Owl-bowing
For many years, the sidelines at football games were occupied by Rice freshman, furiously making obeisance to a graven image consisting of a papier-mache, later plastic Owl, "Sammy" by name.  The greater the need on the field, the more furious the bowing became.  Owl- bowing was synonymous with the on-field success of the Institute years.  In recent decades, the practice fell out of use, as results on the field declined.  Fine.  We old grads shall overlook the faux pas for the time.   But, if, this fall, we're 9 and 0, and playing for a conference championship and a bowl game, we'll damn sure be expecting some freshman fannies out there on the field, giving it the old, "Whooooa, Sammy!"
waterb57.jpg (14639 bytes)Water-Balloon Ballistics
Weanies of every Rice generation have put their physics and engineering lessons to work in the construction of ever- more sophisticated water balloon  launching devices, some capable of sending out missles hundreds of yards.  It continues to be a regular after-dinner pastime as students in one college tower pelt another tower in the distance.  Even the MOB has worked water-ballooning into its halftime shows.
Greased Pole Climb
slime2-57.jpg (10531 bytes)For decades, the freshmen were required to wear beanies--each college sporting a different color--until the successful accomplishment of certain milestones.   Primary among them was the Greased-Pole Climb, or Slime Pit.  A freshman beanie was placed atop a telephone pole in the middle of a pit of drilling mud.  The task of the freshmen was to retrieve the beanie; that of the sophomores was to keep them from getting it.  Alas, the event came to an end in 1967 when a Wiess freshman cut his foot in the melee.   Drilling mud is nasty stuff; the fellow almost lost his foot and missed a full semester of school.  End of tradition.  Nowadays, one could imagine injury lawyers with clip-boards standing around  watching the event in anticipation of a client.
weanies54.jpg (12517 bytes)Slime Parades
Rice freshmen were referred to as "Slimes," as in Primordial Ooze.   "Slime Parades" were  organized in a variety of situations: to amuse the upperclassmen, conduct public celebration, and to remind the freshman that, while they may be individuals, they remain low-life-form individuals.  After a major football victory, Slime could be seen parading down South Main or in front of the Rice Hotel, or, later, the Shamrock.  The Rice freshman athletic teams were nicknamed unofficially the "Slimes."

Rice students back athletic teams enthusiastically (but they don't get there early)

nerds2.jpg (11450 bytes)Although not, strictly speaking, a tradition, it must be said the the Rice student body, despite being small in number, historically has backed its intercollegiate athletic teams to the hilt.  Most of the student body show up for home football games, and typically around one-half, for basketball games in Autry Court.  What the Rice student section lacks in size, it makes up in enthusiasm and creative cheering.   Occasionally  cheers directed at the opposing teams fall flat because they don't "get it."   But the Owlies' propensity for strong backing is not in any way reflected by their showing up early.  Five minutes before the start of any football or basketball game, the Rice student section will be nearly empty.  Ten minutes later will find it almost full.

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