Students, Alumni Celebrate Colgate Day

Taylor Fleming

It started with a simple idea: wear Colgate apparel on every Friday the 13th. But over the past five years, Colgate Day has become both an on-campus and an international celebration of spirit, association and tradition.

The Office of Alumni Affairs first introduced the concept as way to connect alumni back to the university. Because of the now famous relationship of Colgate University to the number 13, the office decided the date was purely appropriate. Director of Alumni Affairs Timothy Mansfield believes that Colgate Day allows students and alumni to “celebrate the spirit that is Colgate on campus and around the world.”

Through pictures and planned events, it became clear that the occasion has become an international holiday. This year alone, events were planned in 11 different cities to reconnect and commemorate Colgate. Photos taken on November 13, revealed that Colgate Day was celebrated across the globe, from places like Indonesia and Spain to New York City and Boston.

The alumni aspect of Colgate Day has become a major part of this celebration. However, this November it seemed more than ever that the campus embraced the spirit of the day. Starting with cookies on the green and flashes of maroon across the campus, it was nearly impossible for students to avoid the unfolding events. At lunchtime, the celebration moved to the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop), decorated inside and out with Colgate paraphernalia. A cappella groups performed for a large audience of Colgate students and staff. The Senior Class Gift luncheon at Donovan’s Pub allowed seniors to celebrate what was probably their last Colgate Day on campus.

Another important event of the day was a Brown Bag lunch hosted by Konosioni and the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI), themed, “What Makes Colgate unique?” Appropriate to Colgate Day, Professor of Psychology Caroline Keating, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology and Native American Studies Anthony Aveni, Lecturer in University Studies Matt Leone and a group of diverse students discussed the privileges and rewards of attending Colgate University. 

“As a senior, it was wonderful to have a hand in such an exciting Colgate Day,” senior Jenna Weber, a member of the planning committee of Colgate Day and Konosioni, said. “It was great to see so much maroon on Friday, to pack the Brown Bag with students of all class years and to ultimately get so much support and great feedback.”

An important aspect unique to this year’s Colgate Day was the welcoming from the town of Hamilton. Mansfield was pleased at how quickly “the village jumped in” to support the celebration. As the day wore on, upperclassmen events were organized both at Donovan’s Pub and in bars downtown. Downtown establishments such as the Colgate Bookstore, the Hamilton Movie Theater, the Barge Canal and the Colgate Inn played a large role in this year’s success, offering 13-related discounts all day.

The success of Colgate Day was reflected additionally by the efforts of the Annual Fund Office. Following the achievements of last spring’s Colgate Countdown Challenge and Race to 113, the office and specifically Michael Tone ’07, Assistant Director of the Annual Fund, proposed a challenge to alumni to raise 1,300 donors between the days of November 1 to 13. 

“We marketed it with a postcard and weekly series of e-mails,” Tone said.

Alumni were kept in the loop every step of the way. During the two week period, the Annual Fund Office not only met their challenge but raised over 800,000 dollars and continue to count incoming checks.

The declaration of Friday the 13 as Colgate Day has created a long-standing tradition that many at the University hope will reinforce the ties of the Colgate community long after the college years in Hamilton, NY.