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Five Vanished Traditions

Students outside the Rotunda during its 1896 reconstruction Photo courtesy of Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections
1. First Year Hats
Unlike the beanies seen on other university campuses throughout much of the 20th century, first years at Virginia were encouraged to wear stylish felt or straw hats. As new students, many of whom were veterans, returned to the University following World War II, the custom was put to rest.

2. The Ugly Club
Members of this 1860s-era club would meet in the spring to award boots to the man voted ugliest, slippers for the most conceited man, a hat to the prettiest and occasionally an auger to the greatest bore.

3. Calathumps
Prior to the Civil War, masked students would conduct late night raids of sorts, known as calathumps, up and down the Lawn, firing off guns, breaking windows and otherwise raising heck. It was during a calathump that a professor was shot and killed by a student, leading to today’s Honor Code. But the Code didn’t end the rowdy parades. They continued another two decades.

Frank Null (Educ '48, '64) and Jerry Gaskell (Com '48) perfect boxing's finer points with Coach Truman Southall Photo courtesy of Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections
4. Boxing Team
Boxing became an official varsity sport in 1927 and matches were held in the new Memorial Gymnasium, where as many as 5,000 fans would crowd into the gym to watch the bouts. The Cavaliers went undefeated from 1932 through 1937, winning a string of Southern Conference Championships. But major collegiate boxing succumbed to growing criticism in the 1950s that it was too dangerous, and UVA eliminated boxing as a varsity sport in 1955. The NCAA refused to sanction the sport after 1960.

5. Easters
A series of dances, concerts, fraternity balls and even afternoon teas that probably began in the late 1800s and evolved into a University-wide block party by the 1970s. Thousands of students would attend, but by 1983, University officials found Easters impossible to tame and banned the party from Grounds.

Mad Bowl, Easters 1975 Photo by Ed Roseberry