The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Ring around the Rotunda

First-years experience Hilltop tradition, official start of year
 Ring around the Rotunda
Ring around the Rotunda

Ring around the Rotunda

First-year students formally entered the university Wednesdayduring one of SMU’s key traditions — Rotunda Passage.The ceremony, held the day before classes start in conjunction withopening convocation, has been in place for 14 years and serves asan initiation rite for new students.

Starting behind Dallas Hall, first-years filed through theRotunda, around the seal, down the steps and across the quad toMcFarlin Auditorium for convocation. Nearly 150 faculty, staff,parents, alumni and current students also attended, including allof the deans and vice presidents, Ross Murfin, Provost and VicePresident for Academic Affairs and University President R. GeraldTurner.

“It’s a link between the past, the future and thepresent,” said Brad Carter, professor of political scienceand chief marshal of Rotunda Passage.

Carter has been organizing the ceremony since 1990. He describedit as “one of two bookends” for students’ time atSMU because it mirrors the processional after baccalaureate.Students leave McFarlin and then walk up the steps through DallasHall, this time stepping on the seal before they exit campus.

The tradition also signifies the beginning of lastingfriendships made at SMU, said Jasper Neel, dean of Dedman Collegeand Vice Provost.

“It’s the time when the whole first-year class comestogether,” he said. “It’s very meaningful to thestudents.”

Katie Coffee, a first-year from San Antonio, enjoyed thetradition.

“It introduces you into the school,” she said.

Alexis Bourn, a senior Week of Welcome leader, participated herfirst year and attended this year.

“It’s important because it’s been such anongoing tradition,” she said. “Maintaining that isreally important to keeping the spirit of the campusalive.”

During convocation, Rita Kirk, chair and professor of theCorporate Communications and Public Affairs department, discusseddifferences between high school and college and motivated studentsto focus on their future at SMU.

Neel then presented the class to Turner.

A new piece of the ceremony this year was the students’pledge back to Turner, an acknowledgement of their becoming part ofthe university, Carter explained.

This year’s Rotunda Passage began at 4 p.m., earlier thanin past years, with hopes of boosted attendance among students andfaculty. Instead of gathering in the parking lot behind DallasHall, students lined up beneath the shade of trees on UniversityBoulevard before the procession.

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