Title: Freshmen Fun Night
General Information about Item:
- Genre: Customary
- Subgenre: Ritual, Ceremony
- Language: English
- Country of origin: USA
Informant Data: Wyatt Smith ’19 is a 20-year-old male caucasian light-weight rower from Hong Kong. He is a long-time rower, having rowed competitively before Dartmouth, and was recruited to Dartmouth’s D150 Lightweight Rowing team.
Social Context: Races are incredibly competitive for lightweight rowing, mainly because the team competes directly with other college teams and because all the weekly practices/weight cutting is in preparation for these races. As such, to combat the pressure, rowers observe certain rituals outside of pure racing that build team unity and provide motivation to help them prepare for team cohesion during races. Freshmen Fun Night is an end-of-the-term ritual that takes place to initiate new rowers and incorporate them into the team.
Cultural Context: Freshmen Fun Night is a ritualistic ceremony that occurs every year and in the same way. It focuses on building team unity and reinforcing the commonalities between the rowers by not only initiating new rowers and incorporating them into the team formally, but also by identifying more experienced rowers who act as the ritual’s performers.
Item: This item is a customary piece of folklore that focuses on the passing down of a ritual that is suppose to help build team unity and ultimately bring later success at a race. It is customary because it is a single practiced ritual that happens every year in the same way that involves many different people within the folk group. It is folklore because it is performed by all the members of this folkgroup and celebrates their commonalities.
Transcript (8:00 – 8:48):
WS: “We have an event, uh, in the spring, between the Cornell, end of, right after, the Cornell race… between the Cornell race and the New England Championships where we have – it’s called Freshmen Fun Night…”
WS: “… and it’s sort of a… initi… I’m gonna say initiation but not in the negative term. It’s a way for the freshmen to be initiated into the team – not through any means of harassment or any negative means but really a positive um…”
BC: “Like a ceremony.”
WS: “Yeah, a ceremony if you will, where the freshmen really become lightweight rowers…”
WS: “… and that is very ritualistic and it’s done the same way every year. Um… and it involves talking about past rowers on the team and like past ‘legends’ on the team.”
- The sharing and passing down of this ritual is interesting because it focuses on all members of the folk group. All members of D150 crew participate in this ritual and it helps remind them of who they are and why they are similar to each other. This also reinforces the ritual itself because a stronger more unified team is more likely to want to participate in these pan-folk group rituals and to preserve them.
Collector’s Name: Brian Chekal