The Traditions Must Go On

the Gompei the Goat mascot with its arm around a student; both wear red-and-white striped shirtsHow do you keep WPI’s cherished traditions alive during a global pandemic? In true WPI fashion, you collaborate, innovate, and make it happen.

For generations, WPI’s traditions have brought the community together to share school spirit, build relationships, celebrate alumni, and create lifelong memories. As keepers of tradition at WPI, the Student Alumni Society (SAS) has been powered by an especially passionate and committed group of students for the past four decades. This year, despite the challenges, the group was more determined than ever to keep school spirit and pride alive on campus.

In snappy red-and-white-striped rugby shirts, SAS members are easy to spot across campus encouraging participation in WPI’s long-standing traditions. Although COVID-19 has made it much more difficult to plan and run campus activities, the group has done all it can to ensure that WPI students, alumni, faculty, and staff can still celebrate their beloved traditions.

“During our time at WPI, we learn a lot about working through difficult situations and overcoming obstacles. That training allowed SAS members to successfully collaborate, reimagine, and execute successful SAS events—despite the pandemic and the obstacles we’ve faced.”  —Joseph Howell ’21

a female student in a WPI sweatshirt leads a group of students crossing the Earle BridgeIn one cherished tradition, first-year students cross the Earle Bridge en masse at the start of the school year. Undeterred by the need to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions, SAS developed a plan for a socially distanced crossing. It took six hours to complete, but SAS successfully welcomed 1,300 first-year students to the WPI community with a well-deserved SAS cheer, a WPI beanie, and a Tech Bible.

“We stayed true to our mission when planning this year’s campus events,” says SAS Herd Chair Dominick Gravante ’22. “We understood people were Zoom-fatigued and missing human connection, so we did our best to develop fun and safe opportunities to celebrate WPI traditions.”

an SAS member hands a t-shirt to a student wearing a WPI t-shirtBy successfully organizing a Founders Day event on the Quad and activities at the Goat’s Head, recording fun Halloween Gompei videos, and hosting a haunted murder mystery across campus, SAS showed that safe events can be executed with strict adherence to protocol, creative innovation, and an extra hefty dose of school spirit.

“Two of the most important skills I’ve learned at WPI are adaptability and innovation,” says SAS Public Relations Chair Brittany Henriques ’22, who says her WPI education has given her the skills she needed to face the challenges of maintaining WPI traditions on campus this year. “With the various COVID-19 related restrictions, we had to find a new way to learn, collaborate, and plan events. As students we are always learning skills that help us adapt and thrive with change, and now more than ever we are putting those skills to the test.”

Three cheers for the Student Alumni Society for keeping traditions alive at WPI in these challenging times.

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