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College Traditions

ESF has a number of traditions that unite students, alumni, faculty and staff. Here are some of the interesting and fun traditions at ESF.

Walking Across the Quad: Or rather, not walking across the Quad. You’ll find ESF students sitting, reading, sunning, playing hacky-sack, throwing a Frisbee, even sleeping on the Quad, but never will you see them walking - or “cutting” - across the Quad to get to the other side. The intent is to preserve the Quad as an open green space without worn paths. Using this as a shortcut to or from class will earn you quick notice on campus, as people here are not shy about shouting “Get off the Quad!”

Eustace B. Nifkin: First appearing on campus during the 1940s, Eustace is ESF’s unofficial student. His name appears on class rosters and other official College documents (though no one seems to know how). The student lounge in Marshall Hall is commonly called Nifkin Lounge in his honor. He received a SUNY diploma in 1972, but evidently returned to ESF to work on a second degree. He is well-traveled: Eustace sends mail to ESF from all over the world. No portrait of him has yet been found, though he’s had the back of his head appear in several editions of the yearbook. In the past, seniors included Eustace somehow in their commencement celebrations.

Elsa S. Freeborn: In the early 1970s, her initials (E.S.F.) were discovered all over campus, and students eventually figured out that Elsa is Eustace’s Socially Significant Other. Like Eustace, her name appears from time to time on official documents, but her picture has yet to appear in the yearbook.

Class Gifts: As members of the senior class prepare to leave ESF, they traditionally make a gift to the College to commemorate their class. Past senior classes have chosen to levy a contribution to the class gift through a small sum added to the last semester’s bill. Past gifts have included buying and retiring credits for three tons of air pollution to help the environment, a water garden outside Marshall Hall, portraits of founding faculty, funds to support the renovation of the Alumni (Nifkin) Lounge, and the clock on the front of Marshall Hall.

Robin Hood Oak: Legend holds that this stately tree behind Bray Hall grew from an acorn obtained by a faculty member from the mighty oak that sheltered Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men in England’s Sherwood Forest. The first tree to be listed on the National Register of Historic Trees in the United States, it is a popular shady spot on campus, and the namesake of the coveted Robin Hood Oak Award.

TGIFs/TGIOs: Referred to most often as simply "TG," Thank Goodness it's Friday! gatherings are sponsored by student government once a month on Friday afternoons in Nifkin Lounge. The Graduate Student Association also offers TGs for their constituency. TG' offer free refreshments, and are well attended by students, faculty and staff.

Ice Cream Socials: Held at least once each semester regardless of weather, this event features free hand-dipped ice cream cones and sundaes and gives students a sweet break from their studies.

December Soirée: This is a semi-formal dinner-dance held the evening of the December graduation. Sponsored by the student government and hosted by a team of student managers, the program includes fine food, student recognition, music and dancing.

Spring Awards Banquet: An annual event since 1913, this is a special occasion for the entire College. Planned and hosted by a team of student managers, the evening program includes student and guest speakers, recognition of students, faculty and staff for excellence in academics and service, and installation of new student government officers. This semi-formal affair includes dinner, music and dancing, and is usually held in March-April.