The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Late-night observations at Rotunda become enlightening, entertaining

Everyone knows what happens on a typical Saturday night at about 2:30 a.m. on the Lawn. It is a tradition that University students hold near and dear to their rears -- streaking.

The recent incidences of students being cited by the police for participating in this coveted weekend ritual, however, make one wonder if enthusiasm for the practice has fizzled. I figured there must be more rituals that take place near the Rotunda than running down the Lawn in the buff: As a first-year student, it's difficult not to realize immediately that you are in a school that is incredibly rich in tradition. So I recruited my friend Kate, and the two of us brave souls headed over to the Lawn in search of its lesser-known happenings in the wee hours of the morning.

Armed with only a notebook, two lawn chairs and a sense of uncertainty about the events to come, we bundled up and set out for the Lawn. We staked out a little camp in front of Pavilion V and got down to business. It was 10:45 p.m. and the Lawn was quiet -- the exact opposite of what it had been like earlier in the day.

As I looked around, I began to find great calmness by simply observing the scene around me. Although it was dark, I could see that the trees and the leaves were illuminated beautifully by the moonlight.

There were several small, intimate groups of students seated in their rocking chairs in front of their rooms. The crickets, however, overpowered the students' conversations with their own voices.

At about 12:30 a.m., Kate and I moved our lawn chairs closer to the Rotunda steps, giving us a breathtaking view of the Lawn.

At 1 a.m., a large group of male students dressed in button-downs, khakis and baseball caps strolled up to the Rotunda. One of the students was giving a tour of the Lawn to the rest of the group.

Shortly thereafter, a group of about 15 female students marched toward the foot of the Rotunda with a look of great determination in their eyes. They marched up the stairs and immediately dropped to the floor and lay on their backs on the top step. Apparently, these girls had heard the tale that if you lie on your back on the top steps of the Rotunda, you supposedly can see the sky resemble midnight blue water -- the trees are the riverbank and the appearance of water comes from light reflected on the columns.

Soon the Rotunda was quiet again as the students finished their visits. Then, around 2 a.m., a group of students began to congregate on the steps of the Rotunda. The small group soon grew and now the Lawn was buzzing with excitement. The crowd soon became more alive, each student preparing to go for that Holy Grail of University traditions -- streaking the Lawn. The crowd then began chanting, "Get naked, streak, let's do it!" and the tension continued to build.

After much taunting and encouragement, one male student accepted the challenge and took off down the Lawn in nothing but tube socks. Another male and a female soon followed him. The cheers quickly ceased, however, as a dark, large figure slowly made his way toward the Rotunda. It was a policeman.

One student, carrying a heap of rumpled clothes, ran down to Cabell Hall and started shouting the names of some of his friends. The crowd quickly dispersed, and dozens of nude bodies scattered up and down the Lawn trying not to get caught without their pants on.

The policeman's visit ended the night's festivities. Kate and I decided we had seen all of the traditions the Lawn had to offer that night.

Some students come to admire the Lawn's beauty. Others come to feel the cool breeze running against their bare flesh. But for whatever reason students have for visiting the Lawn, their attachment to the University only grows.