School Spirit & Traditions

Plaid to the Bone

Carnegie Mellon school spirit & traditions are invaluable to 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.

Scottish Heritage

Many of Carnegie Mellon’s traditions embrace the Scottish heritage of the university’s founder, Andrew Carnegie. Our official school color is the Carnegie clan Tartan plaid consisting of blue, red, green and yellow. You can see the official Tartan plaid on the helmets of our football team and 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.

Spring Carnival

To most college students around the country, the warmth of spring signals a fast-approaching final exam week. At Carnegie Mellon, students and alumni prefer to take advantage of the Pittsburgh sunshine and relax before the end of the year with the annual Spring Carnival and Reunion Weekend. Spring Carnival is one of Carnegie Mellon’s oldest and most beloved traditions, dating back to 1920. Occurring in mid-April, Spring Carnival is the university’s largest event of the year and is entirely student-run by the Spring Carnival Committee.

With over a hundred events, Carnegie Mellon’s Spring Carnival has something for everyone. Next spring, come watch our Kiltie Band perform, ride a rollercoaster, experience the Tartans Got Talent! talent show, go on classic festival rides and meet with university alumni. Two community favorites during Carnival are the Buggy races and exploring student-constructed Booths.

Booth and Buggy

Booth is one of the biggest showpieces of Spring Carnival and is held on Midway in the center of campus. Over twenty Greek and independent student organizations build and decorate multi-story structures for the community to experience.  After a full year of planning, students have less than a week to put up walls, construct staircases, wire electricity and paint decorations in their booth, passing numerous safety checks throughout the process. Booth is a great way for students of different skillsets to collaborate on one project and display their creativity for all to see!

Buggy, also known as Sweepstakes, is the second major tradition of Spring Carnival. Greek and independent organizations race small aerodynamic vehicles powered only by gravity and a team of five human pushers, who pass off the buggy in a relay. The vehicle itself is driven by a team member lying parallel to the ground. Students train year-round for Buggy, often waking up before the sun rises to practice in Schenley Park. The course is a winding 4,400-foot-long loop that includes uphill elements, sharp turns and downhill stretches where buggies have reached nearly forty miles per hour. Spectators from across the university cheer on student competitors in this elimination-style competition.

A Short History of Buggy

Buggy Today

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.