High-fives all around Grounds
University tradition unfolds into a potential world record
Ever since the fourth-year trustees of 2009 added high-fiving Allen Groves to the “Things to Do Before You Graduate” list, the beloved dean of students has been bombarded with the open palms of eager University students. This Wednesday, however, he will attempt to receive the most high-fives ever recorded in the span of an hour.
Student Council and University Programs Council are partnering with Groves to kick off the year with an attempt to break the current world record for the most high-fives in one hour. Groves will walk around the perimeter of the Lawn twice at about one mile per hour while constantly giving high fives, he said. At that rate, he would make it all the way around twice in 50 minutes, but would need the participation of at least 1,740 individuals to succeed.
Michael Promisel, fourth-year College student and Chair of Student Council’s representative body, said Groves “was initially a little bit suspicious of what could happen to his hand, [but] ultimately he accepted to do it on behalf of the students.”
Promisel played a large role in planning the event and coordinating the effort with Guinness World Records. He explained the many regulations for how the high-fiving takes place, such as using the same hand for each high-five, only counting each person once and the need for the presence of two witnesses counting and documenting the high-fives, not to mention a videographer and photographer. Both he and Groves said they are hopeful for mass participation.
“One of the great things about this time of year is that there is a lot of buzz in the air,” Promisel said. “We’re hoping that just the festivities of the first few weeks — that kind of aura — will bring students out.”
Strange as it may seem, high-fiving Groves has been a coveted treasure within the University since it was added to the fourth-year bucket list. At the time, Groves was unaware of the addition to the list and recalls his confusion after the University’s football team lost to William & Mary but students continued to high-five him anyway. Even though he was not asked permission before this item was added to the list, he embraces the tradition wholeheartedly.
“I love it,” Groves said. “I think it’s great because it is one more vehicle for me to connect with students, which when you do the job that I do at a big place, every possible way that I can be seeing students and connecting with students is very important. I could give you so many stories about conversations that I have had with students that I don’t think would have happened without the high-five thing.”
He has been asked for high-fives in many locations, ranging from sports games to meetings after the arrests of students. There is even a recent trend, he said, of students stopping to photograph their high-five, but Groves said that it has never become a nuisance.
“I’ve always joked that the most awkward situation would be if someone was streaking and wanted to high-five me,” Groves said.
To Groves, the high-fiving represents more than an exciting greeting or an item on a checklist — it is a testament to how special the University is.
“I would never want to do this job if it were what it is like at most schools, where I am kind of the principal,” said Groves, “But with our student self governance system … it really changes it so that I am not the person who is going to punish them, and I think that really makes the high-five work.”
Groves plans on dressing down from his usual attire and bringing lotion in order to prevent his skin from cracking. He also said he is concerned about the strength of the high-fives.
“I’m a very confident guy, and this is going to be challenging,” said Groves. “It’s a record for a reason. I mean it’s daunting.”
No matter how difficult it may be, Groves is prepared to give it his best effort. The students, in turn, need to pull their weight and show up. The event will take place Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.