Midnight March tradition continues

Published in the April 26, 2017 issue of The Bells

Charter Day is a campus tradition that celebrates the history and heritage of the university and commemorates the initial signing of the school’s charter on February 1, 1845. It is usually celebrated on the first Wednesday of each February. Sophomores ring the sophomore bell and seniors place a wreath at the grave of Judge R.E.B. Baylor located in Heritage Plaza.

The school recently celebrated the 172nd year since being chartered in 1845. This year, the school spiced things up by having a charter weekend on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22.

Many events were held on campus to celebrate the occasion, which included a Heritage Club tea and reception, a dinner and floral presentation, multiple club reunions, and the Midnight March and robing ceremony. The school even provided campus tours for visiting alumni to see how much the school has grown.

A dinner and floral presentation were held on Friday to honor the first ladies of UMHB. 1975 graduate Norman Northen presented original floral arrangements while telling heartfelt stories of the first ladies. The dinner also included a display of seven dresses, each owned by the first lady of UMHB.

Jim and Caroline Cope met at UMHB and attended the weekend events. Caroline attended UMHB from 1963-1967 and Jim met her in ’63 before moving to Howard Payne. They attended the Charter Day festivities not only to celebrate the school’s founding but also their 50th anniversary.

Jim Cope studied PE with a biology minor here before he transferred, and Caroline studied Home Economics.

“A lot has changed since we were students,” Jim Cope said. “There were only around ten buildings on campus when we were here.”

Caroline’s class was the first to graduate from Walton Chapel after the original chapel burned down, and they were also the first people to see the construction of Getty’s Hall completed.

“We really enjoyed the dinner and floral presentation, the chapel service, and the reunion events,” Caroline Cope said.

Friday festivities also included the traditional Midnight March and robing ceremony that is an opportunity for students to honor their friendships with each other and exhibit their loyalty to the university.

During the week prior, seniors give candles to special friends and invite them to attend the event.

The robing ceremony symbolizes the passing of the student leadership from the senior class to the junior class. Seniors place their caps and gowns on the juniors, and this is the first time the juniors can sing the alumni/senior song, “Up with the Purple.”

Rumored to have started in 1902, this tradition is a highlight for many students.

“As a freshman, I was like, what in the world is this? Do people walk around campus around midnight?” sophomore nursing major Madison Scott said. “But once I learned the tradition of it, and the lighting the candle is passing on their legacy. I thought that was really cool.”

Scott attended the Midnight March to celebrate senior business major Hunter Keszler’s journey at UMHB.

Junior political science and English double major Mackenzie Smith also attended the ceremonies to celebrate with friends and support three seniors.

“It’s fun to rejoice with the seniors and congratulate them and say, ‘you did this. Well done,’” Smith said. “It was a wonderful celebration filled with fun events, friends, and family.”

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