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Pittsburg State offers its traditions to new students

Pittsburg State has many traditions, rituals, and ceremonies that students, faculty, and staff often partake in and the campus is ready to offer these features of college living to the incoming freshman class of 2020. 

Freshman who started at Pitt State previous to 2019 might remember taking the class, “Freshman Experience” but this class has since been replaced by “Gorilla Gateway” as part of the Pitt State Pathways catalog of courses. The classes function the same; they exist as a class to help new students to the campus acquaint themselves with helpful information and often others in their degree area. Freshmen meet with their Gorilla Gateway class on the Sunday before regular classes begin and perform a variety of storied traditions, such as ringing the bell in the clocktower by the Axe Library. Students also ring the bell once they have graduated. 

Another tradition involves the gorilla splitface design in the plaza at the center of campus, colloquially known as the Oval. Many students believe that if they walk on the splitface, they won’t graduate on time or graduate at all, causing many students to divert their path around the bronze plate while walking in the Oval. 

“…It unites students from their first day on campus and everyone shares this mutual understanding..,” said Morie Price, 2020 alumna in communication. “We have a mutual understanding that we don’t step on it because you won’t graduate… and (it’s) a way of giving respect to the university by not stepping on it.” 

Another annual tradition is Pitt State’s Apple Day, taking place in March. The holiday celebrates the occasion when Pittsburg State’s founder R.S. Russ lobbied at the Kansas state legislature for more funding and after accidentally breaking an established legal norm by sitting in a legislator’s seat, the body fined Russ a barrel of apples. His request for more funding was granted despite the fine, and in jest, a group of students similarly fined the faculty of the time a barrel of apples that they distribute among the student body. 

“(I like) Apple Day because of the institutional recognition of humble beginnings, the dedication to the importance of education, and the efforts of ordinary people partnering to achieve huge goals,” said John Robb, PSU alumnus. “(It’s about) recognizing past, current and future students.” 

A number of scholarships and awards are given out at Apple Day each year including the Outstanding Faculty Award, the Professors Beyond the Classroom Grant Award, the Voya Outstanding Employee Recognition Award and the Golden Gorilla Award. Additionally, the ceremony includes two drawings for one-time scholarships only given to students that attend Apple Day. 

“As a student in both Horace Mann and College High Lab School, I attended every Apple Day from 1945 to 1965,” Robb said. 

Additionally, many students, faculty, staff and Pittsburg residents enjoy various game day traditions during football season. These include the Gorilla Walk, Gorilla Village festivities and the opening ceremonies of football games. 

“(I love) game day and the Gorilla Walk, especially,” said Band Jay Kingrey, freshman in mathematics and member of the 2019 Pride of the Plains Marching. “The atmosphere of everyone getting hyped for the game, being involved with the band. I get chills right now just reimagining it.” 

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