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Nontraditional Traditions

Forget stodgy rites of passage. Our traditions reflect our lighthearted irreverence. We might take our studies seriously, but we also know how to have fun.

The Cookie House

Dacie Moses, a longtime college employee, was beloved for opening her home to students. She bequeathed the house, located less than a block from campus, to Carleton with the understanding that it remain a welcoming space for students. It’s a great place to hang out, and the kitchen is always stocked with ingredients to bake cookies.

Silent Dance Party

Just before finals, students take a break from studying to have a dance party — in Carleton’s library! Respectful of noise rules, they sync up a shared playlist on their phones or tablets, put in their ear buds, and quietly but enthusiastically groove to the music.

Friday Flowers

Local florists sell flowers on campus every Friday, allowing students to discover a welcoming surprise in their mailbox. Students buy each other flowers to say thank you or I like you, to recognize someone’s achievement, or just to brighten a friend’s day.

Bubble Brigade

Carleton marks the beginning and end of each year with special convocations in the chapel. Since 1970, seniors have lightened the somewhat formal mood by gathering in the balcony to blow bubbles over faculty members as they enter the chapel in full academic regalia.

Synchrony II

Synchrony II, a student-run dance group founded in 1973, covers a wide variety of dance styles and welcomes students of all abilities to join its ranks. About 200 dancers perform each term for reliably large crowds of friends and classmates.


In 1957 a Carleton student “liberated” a bust of German poet and philosopher Friedrich Schiller from the college library. Since then, successive student “guardians” have anonymously engineered surprise campus appearances and nationwide photo ops for the bust. Schiller’s even been for a ride on Air Force One!


Each May students gather for a friendly game of softball — with one inning for each year in Carleton’s history. The college was founded in 1866, so this is one long game! Fortunately, the emphasis is on fun. The game’s namesake, Marv Rotblatt, was an unusually bad left-handed pitcher for the Chicago White Sox in 1948, 1950, and 1951.

Spring Concert

Carleton hosts its own outdoor mini music festival each spring right on campus. Student winners from the college’s annual Battle of the Bands competition open for a national headlining act chosen by a student committee. Recent artists have included Gold Link, Kehlani, T-Pain, and Smash Mouth.


Carleton doesn’t have traditional cheerleaders, but we do have the Gender Neutral Cheerboys, who are usually on hand to whip up school spirit. These superfans support Carleton sports teams with silly chants and goofy antics, like doing pushups for points scored.

Late-Night Breakfast

Scrambled eggs at 10:00 p.m.? Yes, please! The evening before winter term finals, Carleton deans serve students a free breakfast in the dining hall, and wish us luck on our upcoming exams.