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13 Traditions You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

Black-and-white photo of a large group of male students in suits and hats. They are holding canes and raising them in the air as they shout.
Law school vs. med school boress, October 24, 1951. Source: IU Archives

Have you ever kissed in the Rose Well House (1), swam in Showalter Fountain (2), lain on the ground and put your legs up the wall at the Eskenazi Museum of Art (3), painted the Jordan Avenue bridge (4), put on candy stripes (5), or attended Little 500 (6) or Regatta (7)?

Then you’ve participated in one of these only-at-IU traditions.

“You dullards of hallucination”

Students once faced off in an annual law-med school boress. (8)

During Homecoming week they’d meet outside the Union and hurl insults at each other—the more verbose the better. “You refractory and obsequious embodiments of fatuity, you dullards of hallucination, you ignominious sycophants of tergiversation …” and so on. The winner was determined by the outcome of the law-med football game, for which the victor was awarded the Thundermug trophy.

“It’s time to go bananas!”

Black-and-white photo of a man with shaggy, dark hair and a thick mustache laying on the ground with his arms splayed beneath him and his legs in a V in the air. A crowd of onlookers watches from a distance.
Pretending to slip on a banana peel contest, April 6, 1979. IU Archives

On April 1, 1972, the first-ever Banana Olympics (9) were held in Bloomington’s Dunn Meadow.

Spearheaded by professional prankster Leon Varjian, MAT’75, “the world’s most challenging sporting event” included the banana peel slip, belly-to-belly banana race, banana in your ear, and a banana boat race down the Jordan River.

The event continued through 1975, with Varjian using his final Banana Olympics as a fundraiser for his campaign for Bloomington mayor. He ran on the “Fun City” ticket and promised to turn IU into a Disney-like theme park called “IU Land” and replace all the city’s parking meters with bubble gum machines. He was not elected.

Statue superstitions

Black-and-white photo of a smiling woman with shoulder-length blonde hair. She wears flat, lace-up shoes and a sleeveless, below-the-knee dress that’s belted. The woman has her arms crossed behind her head, mimicking the pose of the nude female statue in the garden behind her.
Joan Brindel mimics the pose of the Eve statue in IUPUI’s Ball Gardens, circa 1956. IU Archives

Students needing an extra boost during exams shake the hand of the Herman B Wells statue at IU Bloomington (10), or rub the floating globe on the fountain sculpture Discovery, gifted to IUPUC by Columbus residents Mike and Phyllis Ryan. (11) Nursing students at IUPUI dress up “Flo” (nicknamed for Florence Nightingale), the Ball Gardens statue, Eve. (12)


A male cheerleader runs across a basketball court carrying a flag that has a trident on it and the words "Go Big Red."
IU men’s basketball game vs. University of Michigan, February 8, 1987. IU Archives

From the first notes of the “William Tell Overture,” you know what time it is.

Fans clap, cheerleaders flood Branch McCracken Court with 18 IU flags, the band plays “Indiana, Our Indiana,” and all of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall sings along, culminating in a fist-and-blades and a collective shout of “IU!” It’s Indiana basketball’s under-8 timeout—75 seconds of pure cream-and-crimson revelry.

The tradition started at an IU football game in the 1970s, was adopted by IU basketball, and became part of the IU-Kentucky rivalry as each school tried to one-up the other by adding more and bigger flags each year.

Eventually it morphed into what is now considered The Greatest Timeout in the History of College Basketball. (13)

This article originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of IMAGINE magazine.

Written By

Andrea Alumbaugh

A native Hoosier, Andrea Alumbaugh is a graduate of IU (BAJ’08) and a senior writer at the IU Foundation.

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