Plaid to the Bone
School spirit and traditions at Carnegie Mellon include a lot of plaid, bagpipes, buggy races and a Spring Carnival that’s the social event of the year.
Carnegie Mellon school spirit & traditions are taken seriously on our campus. This spirit dates back to 1900, when Andrew Carnegie wrote in his letter establishing the Carnegie Technical Schools, “My heart is in the work.” More than 100 years later, those words are still felt on campus in a set of traditions that are uniquely Carnegie Mellon.
Many of Carnegie Mellon’s traditions embrace the Scottish heritage of the university’s founder, Andrew Carnegie. Our official school color is Tartan plaid consisting of blue, red, green and yellow. While you won’t see the Carnegie Mellon Tartan athletic teams sporting it on their uniforms, you can see the official Tartan plaid on the kilts of the aptly named Kiltie Band. Attend a university event, and you may be greeted by our official mascot, the Scottish Terrier. And true to our Scottish roots, we’re one of few schools in the country to offer a major in bagpiping.
While a fall homecoming is the major event of the year at most universities, at Carnegie Mellon we celebrate Spring Carnival. Dating back to 1920, Spring Carnival is one of the oldest and most beloved campus traditions. Each April, students and other community members enjoy a fun-filled, three-day weekend. Aside from a midway complete with carnival rides, food and entertainment ranging from stand-up comedians to bands, the two main components of Carnival are Booth and Buggy.
In Booth, student organizations build elaborate one or two-story structures with a game all designed around the yearly Spring Carnival theme. Booths are displayed on the midway for all Carnival-goers to enjoy.
Buggy is the highlight of Spring Carnival. Part high-tech soapbox derby race, part relay race, Buggy is uniquely Carnegie Mellon. In Buggy (aka Sweepstakes), student teams compete in a five-person relay race around Flagstaff Hill in neighboring Schenley Park. Teams are made up pushers and a driver. The pushers propel their buggy through the uphill sections of the course, while the driver steers through the downhill portions of the course reaching speeds of 35 miles an hour.
Painting the Fence
Painting the Fence is another time-honored tradition at Carnegie Mellon. The Fence sits in the middle of campus and acts at a billboard for student groups. Strict tradition dictates that the Fence may only be painted between midnight and sunrise, in its entirety, using only paintbrushes.
If you want to keep your message on the Fence, it must be guarded around the clock. Guarding the Fence can be as much fun as painting it with groups of students camping out in tents overnight and cooking out on the Cut during the day, so that their message can be seen by all.
Find out about other Carnegie Mellon Student Activities on campus.