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!”
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.
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)
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.