Rochester Traditions

It's tradition!

Celebrating the shared experiences of Yellowjackets across generations, Rochester Traditions encompasses the events and programs that embody what makes the University ever better. Organized by the Office of Alumni Relations, Wilson Commons Student Activities, Class Councils, the Student Programming Board, and others, Rochester Traditions include:

Activities Fair

Celebrate the start of each semester by exploring the many student organizations and clubs the University has to offer. Enjoy live demonstrations and informational displays to help you choose how and where to get involved.

Boar’s Head Dinner

Hear ye, hear ye! Starting in 1934, the Boar’s Head Dinner is one of the University’s oldest and most beloved traditions. The celebration recalls the spirit of English court dinners during the Middle Ages, and begins with a trumpet call and procession of students, faculty, and administrators clad in medieval costumes.

Candlelight Ceremony

This first-night tradition marks the beginning of a lifelong relationship with the University. During this ceremony, the incoming class surrounds the Eastman Quad to learn about the institution's history and traditions by candlelight.

Celebrate Diversity

This program celebrates the University’s global community and brings together first-year students from the College and Eastman School of Music to enjoy an evening filled with song, dance, poetry, and music from around the world.

Forever Rochester Week

Held during the spring semester, this week of activities and events celebrates the impact of the alumni community. Through interactive exhibits and fun events, you can learn how to remain involved with the University beyond graduation and stay #ForeverRochester.

I Heart UR Day

Show your pride during Spirit Week and tell the world why you love the University of Rochester while saying thank you to those who have helped make it the vibrant community that it is.

Meliora Weekend

Meliora Weekend is an annual University and community-wide celebration that offers something for everyone! Show your family and friends around campus, enjoy world-class entertainment from celebrity guests, meet alumni, join in special celebrations, and so much more–students are FREE.

Meliora Weekend is also the only place you can pick up your limited-edition Rochester Traditions memorabilia! These exclusive pieces are only available to the first 500 students from each class. 

  • First-Year Students: Heritage Banner
  • Sophomores: Baseball Hat
  • Juniors: Knit Soccer Scarf
  • Seniors: Vintage Sweatshirt

Senior Giving Campaign

The Senior Giving Campaign begins your annual support of what matters most to you at the University of Rochester. The Campaign allows you to donate to a professor’s research, student scholarships, your favorite student organization, and more—whatever is meaningful to you. Each and every gift is important at any dollar amount.

Senior Week

This week-long celebration for the senior class is filled with exciting events around Rochester, including a trip to the Finger Lakes, and Senior Ball. Following graduation rehearsal, top things off with a special champagne toast and Alumni Welcome Party!

Spirit Week

Hosted by the First-Year Class Council, Spirit Week includes fun events, delicious food, and FREE giveaways. It's the perfect time to show UR spirit!

Springfest Weekend + Dandelion Day

Dandelion Day debuted in May 1951 to coincide with the blooming of the University’s official flower. Now included in Springfest Weekend, this celebration of spring features a headlining concert, student performances, athletic events, and more.

UR Home

Share your love for the University of Rochester, write to alumni to invite them back to campus for their reunion celebrations at Meliora Weekend, and thank those who support the University through their Reunion Class Gift Campaign.

Wilson Day and George Eastman Day of Service

Celebrated each fall, first-year students from the College and Eastman School of Music take part in community service projects like painting, gardening, and delivering meals at nearly 100 locations throughout the city of Rochester.

Winterfest Weekend

Embrace winter in Rochester by roasting marshmallows or watching the live ice-carving demonstration while taking in student performances from your favorite organizations during Winterfest Weekend.

Yellowjacket Weekend

“Feel the sting” and kick off the academic year at Yellowjacket Weekend with the Fall Activities Fair, live music, a luau, food, movies, giveaways, athletic competitions, carnival games, and more.

The Boulders

When construction crews excavated for a major expansion of Rush Rhees Library in 1967, they found a 10-ton rock that had been formed more than 400 million years ago. With the discovery of a second boulder during another excavation 40 years later, the two were placed in front of the residence halls and are often painted by students to reflect and promote current events.

Clock Tower Superstition

Walk at your own risk! Legend has it that if you walk under the clock tower in Dandelion Square, something dreadful will happen (such as prospective students not being admitted and current students not graduating on time). The only way to reverse the curse? You’ll need an acorn, a statue, and good aim: Throw an acorn at the statue of George Eastman on the quad and have it land in the brim of his hat.

Convocation + Class Roll Signing

Convocation is a formal ceremony that brings together students in the first-year class. Immediately following the ceremony, students sign the class roll to symbolically join the University of Rochester community. The class rolls are preserved in Rush Rhees Library and displayed at Commencement, class reunions, and by request of class members.

Garbage Plates

Originally served and trademarked at Nick Tahou Hots (also known as Nick Tahou’s), the Garbage Plate is Rochester’s signature dish. With a variety of ingredient combinations and “knock-off” plates available throughout the city, this tasty treat deserves a spot on any pre-graduation bucket list.

Painting the Tunnels

Tunnel travel has been a way of life at the River Campus since the early 1930s. While their main purpose is to protect students from Rochester’s winter weather, many have left their mark with custom creations over the years. Today, painting the tunnel walls is often a group activity for Greek organizations, class councils, and groups hosting special events or raising awareness.


For many years, sliding down the Susan B. Anthony hill on a dining hall tray was a Rochester pastime. Following the first real snowfall, students would borrow trays from the dining hall and use them for sledding. Other traying spots included the hill by Danforth Dining Hall or near Anderson Tower. Though the River Campus has been “trayless” since 2010 in an effort to increase sustainability, students who wish to sleigh down the campus hills are still welcome to do so with their own equipment.