Campus Column: A word on traditions

My Fellow Civilians of the Dahlonega campus,

When we came here as bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen, we joined thousands before us in attending a unique campus.

At almost 150 years old, UNG has many traditions that its students still observe. Photo by Audra Hall

At almost 150 years old, UNG has many traditions that its students still observe. (Photo by Audra Hall)

We didn’t go to the University of Georgia where bulldogs reign supreme, we didn’t go to one of the many schools in downtown Atlanta where you don’t walk alone after dark and we didn’t go to the typical American college for the typical college experience.

We chose the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus.

Whether we came here because it was for a good education at a reasonable price, or because of its proximity to home (or lack thereof), we came here and we chose to stay.

And little by little, if we like to admit it or not, it grew on us.

As students at this university we, by default, accept certain traditions. Every school has them, every student should abide by them. Lucky for us, our school has some of the best.

Now, lately, there has been a lot of grumbling about a few of these traditions on the bored college student’s favorite social media app, Yik Yak.

How about we set a few things straight, and maybe, just maybe gain some respect for our history:

Staying off the grass:

You may have heard that you aren’t supposed to walk on the grass around campus. If you have, you heard right. We aren’t supposed to walk on the grass all willy-nilly for no reason. If, by chance, we want to enjoy a game of ultimate frisbee with our friends, it’s okay to use the grass, as it would probably be a bad idea to play that game on concrete.

If you are simply loafing around on a grassy patch with no real purpose in mind and just contemplating life, a kind young cadet may ask you to step back onto the sidewalk.

He or she doesn’t do this to be a pain, they are simply trying to keep our campus looking nice.

On most military installations there are designated areas for recreation and other such activities, but here at UNG we simply don’t have room for that.

So, stay calm, and stay off the grass, unless you have a recreational sport to play.

Taking a stroll across Livsey Drill Field:

In our early days at UNG we were told that we could walk, talk, play sports and admire adorable puppies on the big green field that sits in the center of our campus. But, for no reason at all were we not supposed to cut across that field.

Oftentimes, the cadets get blamed for this little tradition, but as this writer understands it, they have nothing to do with this.

You see, way back in the day, this was an agricultural school. Back then the drill field was the land used for growing the school’s crops. The students avoided walking across the field so that the crops wouldn’t be ruined.

Today, this tradition still holds.

“We don’t grow crops there anymore, so why can’t I just run across the field because I’m late to my 8a.m.?” some may say.

Well, that’s a pretty simple answer, too: have respect for all those people that came before you and made this university what it is. If that means you can’t make it to your 8 a.m. class on time, so be it. 

Sound-offs (a.k.a. those cadets screaming at each other):

Sound-offs are often hard for us civilians to understand. We get kind of tired of hearing cadets shout at one another at the top of their lungs, causing us to drop our first cup of morning coffee as we jump 10 feet in the air.

Why do they do it? Do they just enjoy startling us?


Sound-offs are a way for cadets to show pride in their various organizations. The louder they yell, the prouder they are.

Basically, a cadet sounding off is the equivalent of a sorority girl squealing when she sees her sisters, or the equivalent of your mom crying hysterically during every one of your major life events.

So, hold on to your coffee mugs a little tighter, and prepare yourselves for the next sound-off.

Reveille and Retreat

You know what I’m talking about. If you live on campus, it’s that thing that wakes you up at 7 a.m. If you commute it’s that thing that keeps you from moving your vehicle at 5 p.m.

Reveille comes from the French “réveille”, which means “to wake up”. Traditionally, this is meant to wake up all military personnel at sunrise (when in reality, they were probably awake about an hour ago).

Retreat at 5 p.m. signifies the end of the military work day. It is also when the American flag is taken down for the night.

Nodding respectfully before you roll over and go back to sleep, and stopping whatever you may be doing at 5 p.m., isn’t just a sign of respect for your school, but also to all the men and women outside preparing to protect your freedom.

These are just a few of our school’s traditions. An institution that has been around for nearly 150 years is bound to have a lot of these things.

Sure, they may seem kind of inconvenient at times, but this is what we signed up for. Really, we should be grateful that our university, unlike some others, is rich in history. The people who built our college from the ground up left us with classy buildings, a mostly green field and a little mountain town that we can be proud to call home.

After all, how many college kids get to say they go to a school where the future leaders of the nation yell at each other in the early morning, after the sounding of a really loud bugle, in a place where people respectfully avoid walking on the grass?


Audra Hall

The Keeper of Campus Traditions

10 Comments on Campus Column: A word on traditions

  1. Love this so much. So glad to see articles published that tell the tales of our traditions. This actually brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Thank you for showing me a glimpse into my nephew’s life.

  3. This article was extremely well written. Thank you for taking the time to write it!

  4. I enjoyed reading this! My son graduated from NGC (before it became UNG) and both of my grandchildren attend now. It was and is a wonderful school steeped in tradition. Dahlonega is a charming little town that we enjoy visiting! Thanks for the great article!

  5. Teresa R. Crawford // February 13, 2017 at 6:10 pm // Reply

    I absolutely love UNG and take great pride in being an alum. All the traditions are what add to the uniqueness of the campus.

  6. Thanks for the traditions article, a nice follow up to others I’ve read lately that weren’t so respectful. I believe you have a typo that changes what you meant to say though.

    “…for no reason at all we were supposed to walk across that field.”

    I think you probably meant “…we were not supposed to walk across that field.”

  7. Great article about a great University! Love the school as much, if not more, as I did some 49 years ago. So glad my son and his wife are fellow alumni. Hoping to send some more that way in a few years.

  8. What a wonderful article. It made me homesick for a school I’ve never been to and may never get to. Maybe the next time I travel in Georgia? It is nice to know that there are places in this fast-paced world where the term ‘tradition’ actually means something.

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