10 Celebrated Syracuse University Traditions
From the color orange to the Kissing Bench—discover the legacy of rituals that spark school spirit and community.
Orange Origins and Otto
In 1890, Syracuse became the country’s first college to designate orange as its official color, ousting pink and blue, which had unseated rose pink and pea green. After evolving looks and name changes, today’s ever-lovable Otto was officially named Syracuse’s mascot in 1995, joining a legacy that includes Vita the Goat.
Energizing the Loud House
The JMA Wireless Dome radiates heart-thumping, ultra-Orange energy. Also known as the Loud House, it hosts athletic games and other events and regularly welcomes record-breaking crowds for men’s basketball showdowns. Before entering, stand next to the structure and do the Dome Stomp to echo your Orange enthusiasm. Once inside, shake your keys to foil football opponents on third down.
A Number to Remember
The number 44 attained icon status as the famed jersey number of Syracuse football greats Jim Brown ’57, Ernie Davis ’62 and Floyd Little ’67. Its ubiquitous presence today is reflected in Plaza 44 (where statues honor the gridiron legends), campus phone numbers, the campus ZIP code and all those fans draped in 44 jerseys.
Behold the Bell-Ringing Melodies
The Crouse Chimes have filled the Hill with the sound of music since nine of now 14 bronze-cast bells first clanged in 1889. These days, the secretive Chimesmasters scale Crouse Tower to play the alma mater, the fight song and other memorable tunes, continuing the tradition that was once the responsibility of Delta Kappa Epsilon.
Perking Up at People’s Place
The inviting scent of freshly brewed java—and a brewing sense of community—has drawn caffeine connoisseurs to People’s Place Café in the lower level of Hendricks Chapel since 1971. Look to the student-run nonprofit’s colorful chalkboard for a listing of fair-trade coffees and other beverages, delicious baked goods and more tasty offerings, including vegan options.
Lending a Welcoming Hand
When the Goon Squad was founded in 1944, its members enforced the ritual requiring first-year students to wear beanie caps. That edict soon vanished and for many years since, the volunteer Goons have been a welcoming presence on campus—cheerfully helping new students cart their belongings to their residence hall rooms on move-in day.
Let it Snow
Living in one of the country’s snowiest cities, Syracuse students become accustomed to life amid lake-effect blitzes and monstrous drifts. They’ve celebrated the snowy season, off and on since the 1930s, with Winter Carnival. The multiday event brings warmth and fun with a blizzard of activities, including ice skating, a cappella performances and chili cookoffs.
Celebrating the Orange Community
On March 24, the University celebrates its founding anniversary date in 1870 with National Orange Day. Members of the Syracuse family around the globe break out their orange gear and participate in community service activities. Amid an array of events, the campus community joins the Chancellor and Otto for cake at the Schine Student Center.
Couples Take a Seat
On the west side of the Hall of Languages sits the Kissing Bench, a spot where many a marriage proposal has been cast and confirmed with a kiss—supporting the tradition that people who sit on the bench together are destined to wed. For the help in uniting their futures, couples can thank the Class of 1912, which gifted the stone-seat landmark to the University.
A Pooch’s Good Luck Paw
The 12-foot bronze statue of Diana the Huntress and her dog that graces Carnegie Library was donated to the University in 1932 by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. According to tradition, when a student rubs the dog’s paw, adding a prayer or good wish, success will follow on an exam.