Traditions Committee Gives Young University Some History

Posted: April 19, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

George Mason may be a young university, but it can still have traditions, thanks to the Traditions Committee. Started in 2000 by Karen Rosenblum, vice president for university life, the committee meets once a month to discuss current traditions and how to improve or create forthcoming traditions. The committee includes faculty, staff, and students from the three campuses and from a variety of offices, departments, and groups.

“The George Mason University Traditions Committee will continually evaluate, create, and improve traditions that enhance the university community experience, provide connections between affiliate organizations, and foster pride and affinity to Mason,” according to its mission statement. “The committee is responsible for increasing awareness of the university’s history, culture, and traditions while encouraging vested participation, and ensuring that traditions continue to meet the ever-changing needs of the George Mason community.”

As one of the more recent examples of the committee’s work, the words “cum laude,” “summa cum laude,” and “magna cum laude” have been added to George Mason diplomas, replacing the formerly used “distinction,” “high distinction,” and “highest distinction.” These phrases are reserved for those students who have a GPA of 3.50 or higher on a 4.00 scale. Students who achieve this level are also allowed to wear honor cords with their gown. Another change in graduation traditions has involved exchanging the old black graduation gowns for dark “Mason green” gowns, which can be purchased at the bookstore for the first time this year.

The committee has already created a school ring. The official George Mason ring includes the school crest on one side and the statue of George Mason with a background of the Johnson Center on the other. Surrounding the stone, which the student may choose, are the words “George Mason University, Virginia.” The school began selling the ring in 2002, and it, too, can be purchased through the bookstore.

After the Traditions Committee found that Mason had three unofficial songs posing as the alma mater, or school song, a contest was put forward. “Patriot’s Dream” was named the university’s official song in 2002. Carol Boyd Leon wrote the winning music and lyrics.

Another topic of concern to the Traditions Committee is George Mason’s mascot, Gunston. There is a debate on whether the university should keep Gunston or change back to a Patriot mascot. Gunston was originally created to entertain a younger crowd and serve as a multinational symbol, showing the diversity of the school. Many, however, argue that Gunston is not a true representation of a Patriot and he is more for the children rather than the students who attend the university.

For more information on the committee, contact Alissa Karton, committee chair, at 703-993-1438.

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