Traditions are an important part of life at Thomas Jefferson's University. Some traditions, like the Jefferson Society, founded in 1825, and the Honor System, created in 1842, still exist today. Other traditions like quoits and cotillions enjoyed by students of an older time have been replaced by similar but more modern pastimes like bean-bag tossing and dance parties. Even though some things at U.Va. may change, one thing remains the same for everyone who considers himself or herself a "Wahoo": a love of the University and the people and things that make U.Va. unique.
The Honor System
The University of Virginia's Honor System is one of the school's most important traditions. University students believe that they must act honorably in everything they do, and they believe that lying, cheating, and stealing have no place in the University community. Students who break the rules are asked to leave the University.
Many secret and honorary societies have a home at the University of Virginia, including the Seven Society, IMPs, Zs, P.U.M.P.K.I.N., T.I.L.K.A., Raven, Rotunda Burning, Purple Shadows, K.O.T.A., and Eli Banana. During the University's first hundred years, nearly every student was a member of one or more society. Today, students join these societies to help raise money for the University, help their communities, or just to take a break from their studies.
The Jefferson Society
The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society was founded on July 14, 1825, and is the oldest collegiate debating society in North America. The Society, named in honor of Mr. Jefferson, has counted Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Governor James Gilmore, President Woodrow Wilson, and University President John T. Casteen III among its members.
The University of Virginia is home to more than a dozen singing groups. Some are all-male, some all-female, and some co-ed, and they include names like the Virginia Gentlemen, Virginia Belles, CHoosE, and Remix. Some groups perform a variety of music, while others specialize in a particular kind, such as religious songs, jazz, hip-hop, or R&B. Their harmonies kick off the start to each academic year at the Rotunda Sing on the Lawn.
Students carry on the proud tradition of donating their time by tutoring or coaching young children, building homes, delivering food to those in need, or using their skills and talents to make their community better for everyone.
Instead of graduation ceremonies, students at U.Va. attend Final Exercises. Students join a cap-and-gown procession down the full length of the Lawn for thousands of parents and guests to see to celebrate their graduation from the University.
Fun Facts About U.Va.
At the University of Virginia, we do some things a little differently, and we are very proud of the things that make us unique! Here are some things that might help you understand us a little better.
- There are no freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors at U.Va. Why? To be a "senior" means you've reached the end of your education, but Thomas Jefferson believed that was impossible. He believed that you continue to learn for your whole life. So we call students "first years," "second years," "third years," and "fourth years."
- We have no campus at U.Va. What most universities call a campus, we call our "Grounds."
- We don't call our professors "doctors." At other universities, it's respectful to call professors who have earned Ph.D. degrees "doctors." But because our founder, Thomas Jefferson, did not have a Ph.D. degree, we call our professors "Mr." or "Mrs." out of respect for Mr. Jefferson. But we do make exceptions for our medical doctors.
- Our mascot is the Cavalier, but we're just as likely to call ourselves 'Hoos or Wahoos. Beginning in the 1890's, the students at U.Va. would chant "wa-hoo-wa" at baseball games against their rivals. Over the years, students began calling themselves Wahoos, or 'Hoos for short, to show their school spirit.