This summer, when newly high school graduates head to colleges and universities to decide where they will spend the next four years of their life, they will hear and read about many age old traditions that look good in a prospective student brochure. There are, however, many other age old traditions at these schools that administrators would rather parents not know about – this is one such tradition.
They call it The Senior Crawl – and it has been going on at The Ohio State University for as long as bar owners can remember. Every year, thousands of students leave this school, degree in hand, headed for unknown and brighter futures. Before they do, however, Senior Crawl lies before them as a final rite of passage.
What is it?
Peppered next to the campus are a bevy of bars and pubs that most students find themselves frequenting at least once over the course of four years. Senior Crawl is an evening where graduating seniors and their friends frequent as many of their old stomping grounds as possible. Being the ardent journalist that I am, I had but no other choice then to go undercover and take a look at this phenomenon firsthand*.
What are the proper rules?
There are a set of unwritten guidelines one is expected to follow when participating in the Crawl. First and foremost, you must wear a white t-shirt if you're going to crawl – and you should only do so if you are a senior. In addition to the t-shirt, you are also expected to carry a few Sharpie markers with you, so that you can write on the t-shirts of other seniors. The markers are also used to keep a running tally of where you have been and the number of drinks consumed. Mothers would weep if they were doing their children's laundry and saw Crawl shirts.
Unofficially, the markers are sometimes used to sign the bathroom of each bar frequented. While most establishments obviously discourage this behavior, several surprisingly openly welcome it.
When does it go down?
Generally the Crawl occurs the night before graduation practice. Part of the 'final rite' includes having to wake up and participate in a practice graduation ceremony with one of the worst hangovers most students have ever had.
Why do they call it a Crawl?
The tradition is called a Crawl because of the amount of walking involved. The Crawl I went on with my friends logged over 2.5 miles if you count the walk to/from home. Combine the distance with the alcohol and you will be quite fatigued by the end of the night for sure.
Why would someone do this?
Because graduating from college is a scary thing. After a lifetime of education and a structured environment, you enter an exciting yet entirely unknown world. A world full of work throws off the rosy colored glasses most students have looked through all their lives. The Senior Crawl is an acknowledgment and acceptance of this – and it is seen by many as the last chance to be a young, supid college student who goofs off and can go out drinking all night with his friends – something many people may never have an opportunity to do again. In a grim world with dwindling job prospects, fears that Social Security (in the US) won't be there when we need it, and at a time when many life long friends will separate to various corners of the world – it doesn't seem so wrong to have one last night out with the buds at the old college hangouts.
Do other schools have traditions like this? This is a fairly commonplace one at OSU that hordes of people participate in every year.
* Disclaimer: Don't do what Corey Spring does.