Gustavus Traditions

The Gustie Greeters’ cheers resonate across campus and it’s clear the first-years have arrived. They’ll learn many new things and meet many new people, but some things will stick with these new students longer than a few semesters. The traditions that students pass on from generation to generation help define students’ lives at Gustavus, and it’s what they’ll remember long after they walk across the stage to accept their diploma. From painting the rock, to traying down the hill, there are plenty of opportunities to participate in the traditions that make a student a Gustie.

1. Trivia at Patrick’s

Every Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m. you’ll find Gusties and locals alike packed into Patty’s on the corner of 3rd Street and Park Row for trivia night. Hosts Ben and Tom, a.k.a. The Savants of Question, deliver question after question of fun trivia, and many students come down to play trivia for a good time and the possibility of winning a free pitcher of beer, and many form teams that compete there regularly. So, grab some friends, form a team, and head to Patrick’s for a night of fun, laughter, and knowledge! “Trivia is fun because it gives you the chance to get outside campus and experience a St. Peter tradition in a place that’s an extension of our community. It’s fun just to get a group of people together (coworkers, friends, classmates), order a Gustie burger with buff chips, and then laugh about the trivia for a few hours. You really can’t anticipate what they’ll ask…anything from current events, to movie titles, to the physics of our universe. The fun part is socializing, working with your team to figure it out, and enjoying good food. Plus the announcers are hilarious and whether you win or lose, it’s a good place to be on a Tuesday night!” Junior Maura Bremer said.


What’s winter at Gustavus without traying? This longtime tradition involves a caf tray, an icy hill, and some quality snow. Gustavus happens to be situated at the top of a large and steep hill that makes for some great sledding. Whether you take your tray adventure to the tried and true Old Main hill, or decide to try out the hills behind Rundstrum, Pittman, or Complex, you’ll be sure to have a blast. Grab a tray and some friends and head to the top of the hill; just be sure to avoid trees and the sign at the bottom. Traying tip: trains are fun and fast!

Wind blows across the prairie grass in the Linnaeus Arboretum. Office of Marketing and Communications
Wind blows across the prairie grass in the Linnaeus Arboretum. Office of Marketing and Communications

“When I hear people talking about traditions at Gustavus the one that sticks in my mind is traying. Many people have clearly gone traying for some time now if the Caf puts aside special trays for the students to use just to go sliding down the hill. My favorite part is when the tray flips around and you end up going down the hill backwards and fall over,” Sophomore Helena Johnson said.

3. Streaking through the Arb

Feeling adventurous? Students have been known to strip down completely nude and take a run through the Arb at night. This tradition may have a bit of a risk factor, but it’s all in good fun. The subject of many dares, streaking through the Arb is something that Gustavus students find to be essential to their college experience. In this hot weather, losing a layer of clothing might be the perfect remedy to dorms without A/C. Streaking tip: always wear running shoes and carry your clothes with you. Otherwise you might end up streaking all the way home.

A student spray-paints the rock for Pride Week. Clark Kampfe
A student spray-paints the rock for Pride Week. Clark Kampfe

4. Painting the Rock

You may have seen the large boulder sitting on the top of the hill radiating a multitude of colors and wondered “what’s up with that?” The current rock has been there since 1967 (the original rock was there as early as 1938) and gets painted hundreds of times each year, typically under the cover of nightfall. It isn’t unusual to see the rock sporting two different designs in a week – one day it might be promoting a student organization and the next celebrating a birthday or graduation. All you need is a couple cans of spray paint and maybe a friend or two to participate in this Gustavus tradition!

5. Midnight Express

A long line of Gusties wait eagerly to get food at Midnight Express. Office of Marketing and Communications
A long line of Gusties wait eagerly to get food at Midnight Express. Office of Marketing and Communications

Each semester on the night before finals begin, you won’t catch students studying in the library, taking a break in the Courtyard Café, or even hanging out in their dorm rooms – they’ll be eagerly waiting in line to get served free food by their professors and listen to live music by the Gustavus jazz bands. The music is the best part, according to Junior Nate McNab. “Their music adds to the atmosphere in a great way. With them, the caf feels like a 1920’s speakeasy.” The line may be long, but the wait never fails to provide some entertainment – come early and you may glimpse the Gustavus Cross Country team streaking through the Campus Center.

6. Decorating the Bust of Gus

The bust of Gustav Adolph, the renowned Swedish king for whom the college is named after, is located outside near Old Main and the Edgar M. Carlson Administration Building. But Gus isn’t a regular old statue – just like the rock, you can spot him donning a fresh look every once in a while. He’s worn everything from pumpkins to t-shirts to a graduation cap and gown. If you feel like Gus looks a little plain, grab some props and spice him up!