A Spring Tradition

By Barb Sedlock, Metadata and Archives Librarian


Here’s a forgotten spring tradition on the DC campus:  Whitney vs. McReynolds! Fraternity vs. sorority!   And where did these contests take place?  On choir risers!  Yes, DC students used to compete in singing contests.

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Most of the time the tradition was called the “All-Campus Sing.”  The earliest reference I found to one of these contests was in the 1946 academic catalog, where it was listed as part of religious activities offered on campus.  And in 1958, it was part of the May Day celebrations.  Enough groups wanted to participate in 1958 that the event was divided into two divisions, Greek organizations competing with each other, and all other campus groups in the second division.


Groups were allowed to perform two (or sometimes three) songs of their choosing.  Judges for at least some of the contests were recruited from city residents, but other years judges were chosen from campus or alumni.  In some years consolation prizes were given to groups who had more enthusiasm than musical ability.


The December 6, 1963 Defender wrongly stated that that year’s All-Campus Sing was the first in DC’s history.  Students who had participated in the 1958 event had graduated by then, so the tradition had apparently been forgotten.   Beta Sigma sorority won a loving cup in this ’63 revival, with renditions of songs from “Oklahoma!” and “The Sound of Music,” and men from the Trowbridge dorm received a cup for second place.  Read more about the 1963 event in the 12-6-63 Defender:  http://goo.gl/2sR3D1   and photos in the 12-17-63 issue:    http://goo.gl/LLyx5Y


In 1966, Whitney Hall won the contest, with Beta Sigma sorority placing second, and Campus Christian Fellowship third.  Here’s the page from the Oraculum about the 1966 competition:  http://goo.gl/daLUdl

An alumnus from the era says he remembered the Sings being held in what is now the Weaner Center, and he remembers being asked to judge the contest the year after he graduated.  That year, the Theta Xi fraternity announced it was going to perform “Joy to the World,” so he expected the Christmas carol, since the contest was still being held at Christmas time, but instead they performed the Three Dog Night song with the same title.


Starting in the early 1970s, the event was moved to the spring semester, as it had been in 1958.  In 1974, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity sponsored the contest, and in 1975, Alpha Xi Delta sorority put it on.  Often the Sing was held as part of Spring Week (also called Greek Week or Spring Olympics).  Besides the Sing, during Spring Week students would also compete in more athletic-oriented contests such as tug-of-war, egg eating, bike racing, and arm wrestling.  Sometimes the Spring Week contests and games were supplemented with performing arts presentations and lectures.


You can find more on the All-Campus Sing in DC Memory.  Use the “simple search” tab, but you’ll need to search both with a hyphen (“all-campus sing”) and without (“all campus sing”) to find all the references to the contest: sometimes it was printed in the Defender and Oraculum with the hyphen, and sometimes without.  And remember that the Defenders have only been digitized up through May of 1966.  If you want to see later issues, visit the archives when the Pilgrim Library is open to see the paper originals (library hours page).


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