Pumpkin Drop – MIT
If you drop a pumpkin from the top of a roof, what is the radius of the impact? The equation probably doesn’t even make sense, but it’s not supposed to; at least once a year, on Halloween, MIT students are encouraged to forget about the physics of falling objects and just drop pumpkins off of a roof. And leave it to your smartest classmates to do it right: frozen pumpkins are hurled (often to orchestration) off the Green Building—the tallest building in Cambridge. Nothing says “Happy Halloween”—or “Infamous College Tradition”—like a torrent of plummeting pumpkins.
Spring Fling — The University of Pennsylvania
I know what you’re thinking: “My school has a Spring Fling, too!” But not like Penn’s. Students from all across the East Coast flock to Philly at the end of the spring semester to take part in a festival that has been putting even state schools to shame since 1973. Musical performances from artists ranging from Snoop Dogg to Ben Folds, free food, carnival games, and lots and lots of drunken debauchery make Penn a temporary hotbed of smart, intoxicated, “we’re-fun-for-a-weekend!” undergrads.
Little Five — Indiana University
The Little 500, popularly dubbed ‘little five’, is the largest collegiate bike race in the US and the biggest intramural event at IU…but that makes it sound like something you’d want to bring your grandma to. What started in 1951 as a simple four-person relay race has turned into a full week of concerts, events, and round-the-clock parties; the actual race has become the icing on a very rowdy, very competitive, very Greek cake. Modeled after the Indy 500, Little Five week holds a dual title: crazy college tradition, and the closest any event has ever come to making NASCAR cool.
Ditch Day — California Institute of Technology
What separates CalTech’s legendary Ditch Day from your high school’s Senior Skip Day is key: puzzles. Once a year, seniors vanish from campus and leave underclassmen elaborate mind games so that, according to campus myth, the underclassmen are occupied and the seniors’ rooms are safe from underclass intruders when they make the mass migration off campus. In true CalTech form, the puzzles aren’t your average jigsaw; they’re complicated problems that only genius engineering nerds could conjure (much less solve…). The day is also full of pranks, science jokes, and general rowdiness. Oh, engineers…