Friday, January 7, 2011

Cane Rush

Spectators Watching Cane Rush
Canes have a long and varied tradition at Dartmouth. During the 18th and 19th centuries freshmen were not allowed to carry canes. The carrying of canes was reserved for upper class students only, as it was a symbol of maturity, class and distinction.

Cane rush is one of a number of rushes that have come and gone in the history of the College. These rushes (different from rushing a fraternity) usually involved the physical removal or capture of some item or items. The competitions usually took place between the freshman and sophomore classes.

Members of the Class of 1886 following the
Cane Rush of 1883 against the Class of 1887
In 1868 the faculty abolished a long-standing tradition called football rush because they found it disruptive and destructive to both students and property. Its loss was much lamented by the students who felt the need for some physical outlet for energies that had been bottled up in the course of study. In the spring of 1869 they replaced the football rush with a new custom, cane rush.

For cane rush, freshmen would appear in a prominent place, often at chapel, carrying canes. The sophomores would then respond en masse trying to remove the canes from the freshmen. As with football rush, this was not a gentle competition and usually resulted in damage to property and persons. Cane rush was banned by the Faculty on several occasions, but this had little effect and the tradition appears to have carried on into the early-20th century.

A piece of a cane removed from a member of the Class of 1885
Ask for Rauner Photo File: Cane Rush, and Rauner Vertical File: Cane Rush

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