Traditions

Some Whittier traditions date back to the College's founding a century ago, while others have emerged in recent times. These traditions reflect both solemn rituals and the lighter side of college life, but each serve to connect students with a living history, important aspects of academic and social community, and the College's distinguished past.

The most significant Whittier College traditions are those that mark both the initiation of new students into the College and, four years later, their successful completion of a course of study. The President's Convocation, held in Harris Amphitheatre on the first evening of Orientation, celebrates the introduction of students into the College community. This impressive ceremony begins with students processing through a corridor of faculty in full academic regalia and concludes with the igniting of candles to symbolize sharing the "Light of Learning." Commencement, held in Memorial Stadium, marks the conclusion of our students' academic journey at Whittier, but by no means the end to their association with the College. Beginning with a moment of silence in the Quaker tradition, the ceremony reaches its peak as graduates receive their diplomas against a backdrop of international flags, representing the myriad diverse home countries of our students and reflecting the Quaker spirit of internationalism and global unity.

Between these two important rituals are a host of traditions that help give meaning to the Whittier College experience and flow from our rich heritage. These range from the never-ending painting of the Rock to events such as Homecoming, Spring Sing, and Helping Hands Day, to longstanding organizations such as Societies, the ten service and social clubs that have been an integral part of the Whittier community for 90 years. Annual traditions also include cultural celebrations reflecting Whittier's diverse student and faculty populations, such as the Tardeada, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, Pacific Islander Lu'au, and Asian Night.