September 06, 2013
Traditions unite SusquehannaThe loud rumbles and sparks of fireworks above a crowded park. The tantalizing smells of fresh-baked cookies during the holidays. Traditions are everywhere in society, from family recipes handed down through the generations to the planning of a wedding. They're not mandatory, but practiced by people from all different backgrounds.
Many times, they also create a sense of community and belonging. Here at Susquehanna, traditions come alive across the campus every year, and this year marks a university milestone. SU Traditions has been announced to officially promote the numerous Susquehanna traditions that are beloved by students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends.
Though SU Traditions has just been launched this year, the idea was conceived a few years ago with the desire to create stronger bonds between students and alumni, to strengthen the sense of community at Susquehanna, to encourage alumni to continue to be engaged at the university and to enrich campus life as a whole.
Angela Burrows, chief communication officer, said that this idea was created by participants from numerous fields.
Along with University Communications, the committee consists of representatives from student life, career services, faculty, the Board of Trustees, alumni relations and others.
"This creates a sense of cohesion," Burrows said. "The planning began late fall in 2011, and SU Traditions was officially opened at convocation this year. We're going to gradually roll out this idea throughout the year."
Examples of SU Traditions have already been spotted this year with first-year move-in day and convocation. Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Director of Student and Young Alumni Engagement Susan Kreisher said she has anticipated the reveal of SU Traditions.
"We have a name for them!" she said, regarding the new title for these beloved traditions.
Kreisher said the new name isn't the only factor added this year. Maroon and Orange Day will be a new event to show off Susquehanna pride. People from all over the world will wear the school's colors and send pictures to the university.
"We're highlighting the 'Big T's' this year," Kreisher said, which includes the new Maroon and Orange Day tradition. "The ones we've chosen to specifically promote this year are a mixture of serious and fun traditions. This is in consistency with Susquehanna's values."
Some other "Big T's", or important traditions, include Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas Candlelight Service, SU SERVE, the new Maroon and Orange Day and commencement. The other traditions not on the 'Big T' list aren't disappearing though, Kreisher assures. They will continue to be a part of campus, and as SU Traditions finds its footing, it will start to promote the others more strongly.
Along with the promotion of the traditions themselves, the history behind them will be incorporated as well.
"We're creating more of a context to these traditions," Burrows said. "Other than just promoting them, we want to also share the history of certain events."
The uniqueness of the SU Traditions endeavor is seen through the community itself, Kreisher said.
"SU Traditions is a combined effort with lots of input and lots of enthusiasm," she said.
Amanda Lenig, creative services manager of University Communications and one of the minds behind the Gingko leaf logo, said that a larger sense of pride is also felt throughout the community.
"Almost every student experiences [the traditions]," Lenig said. "They have these things in common with lots of students."
Lenig said she also believes that SU Traditions is an important part of the college experience. The title, SU Traditions, draws in more positive attention to help foster those positive experiences.
From first-years to seniors, positive feedback and input is needed and appreciated for SU Traditions to succeed. First-year student Eric Krinick said he is already excited for the years ahead of him and the SU Traditions incorporated into them.
"There are so many traditions that I'd love to become a part of, for they seem to bring us closer together as an SU family," Krinick said.
The first-year class of 2017 was not only exposed to move-in day and convocation, but they also received hand-written letters from alumni to welcome them to the Susquehanna family, a tradition loved by both students and alumni.
Senior Rachel Sauer said she connects SU Traditions with her family. "Both my parents are alumni," Sauer said. "My dad always talks about the Thanksgiving dinner. So it was cool to participate in the traditions and feel a connection to my parents."
The same goes for senior Shanise Barone, who said she enjoys looking back on all her years here with these traditions in place.
"Traditions give you a sense of belonging. You feel like you can connect with people, even the faculty," she said. "They want to interact with students, and the whole atmosphere is really comfortable."
SU Traditions is not a new concept. As Burrows said, it's "putting a bow on it." For students, they can experience a close-knit community where everyone finds common ground in the events that SU Traditions promotes. It also plays to the nostalgic, sentimental aspects of alumni's memories and causes them to reminisce back to their college years, as Burrows said.
President L. Jay Lemons agreed on the purpose of SU Traditions.
"We know how powerful the example of successful alumni is for current students," he said. "We know that the Susquehanna alumni network is strong but can be made more so by intentional strategies that connect alumni to one another and to current generations of students."
"We also know that these connections are rooted in relationships our alumni have with our faculty and staff. Traditions are those activities, events, and rituals that connect us across the generations," he added.
SU Traditions may be new, but the hope for this new idea, Burrows said, is that "students will embrace traditions, add to them and take hold of them in a meaningful way." Responsiveness from students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends is encouraged to bring SU Traditions alive.
As most members of the campus community know, and as is told through special handouts for SU Traditions, the Gingko tree is the living representation of the Susquehanna experience. In a statement from Lemons, the Ginkgo represents Susquehanna in multiple ways. Known for it's resilience, the Gingko "mirrors the strength of the Susquehanna community," he said. Also, the tree is seen as "the bearer of hope." At Susquehanna, each incoming class of students is also a symbol of hope.
For more information on SU Traditions, visit www.susqu.edu/traditions.
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