You enter your First Year here just as Mr. Jefferson, or as I like to call him, TJ, would have wanted. Sitting on the lawn, facing the North with our beautiful Rotunda in the background. This event is magical for many reasons. You are sitting with all of your peers in Class of 20something, you’re all in the same position, and you will be with them for the next four years. Looking around you’ll feel the excitement in the air, and see everyone dressed up and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The speakers aren’t the exciting part, with the exception of the speech from the Sevens. Just be in the moment and appreciate that this is the only time you will be with all these people in the same place until graduation!
I love Rotunda Sing- it’s such a fun afternoon on the Lawn. Basically, Rotunda Sing is an acapella concert right in front of the Rotunda. It takes place at the beginning of the school year, so it’s nice and warm out. There are lots of beautiful lights projected onto the Rotunda steps and it’s just a really chill night. This is also when the acapella groups advertise their audition times—so if you’re interested in joining a singing group, be sure to check it out!
Streaking the Lawn:
Streaking the Lawn is something that most students participate in, and all are encouraged to do before graduation. It is what it sounds like, you streak the Lawn! Here is a step-by-step run through: go to the Rotunda steps at night, remove clothing, run down steps and lawn, run around the Homer statue 3 times, kiss his bottom, sprint back up the Lawn to the Rotunda, walk up the steps and whisper “Goodnight, Mr. Jefferson” into the keyhole on the door, put clothes back on. It’s fun and liberating! 10/10 would recommend doing it.
Pancakes for Parkinson’s:
Pancakes for Parkinson’s is an event that was created 14 years ago at UVA as a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation to benefit Parkinson’s research. It’s a really fun event with lots of delicious pancakes made by the volunteers. I volunteered last year and donated to support my grandfather who has Parkinson’s Disease. It was a really great way to get involved quickly and to support a cause that is in desperate need of more funding for research. The event is also really enjoyable and for all ages, so it does a great job of bringing UVA and the Charlottesville community together.
(here's me flipping some pancakes! Vid credit to Catherine Cura)
Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn:
My favorite childhood tradition had always been dressing up in a fun costume and trick-or-treating around my neighborhood with my brother. At UVA we host a similar event on the Lawn where the Charlottesville community comes together with the UVA students to celebrate Halloween. At 7pm on the Friday on/before Halloween, the children in Charlottesville gather on the Lawn and make a line to trick-or-treat at all of the Lawn rooms. Many students dress up even if they aren't a Lawnie to hand out candy! It's efficient, it's adorable, and it's a heck of a lot of fun.
Lighting of the Lawn, or LOTL, is the most beautiful event UVA has to offer. It began in the wake of the September 11th attacks when everyone in America and at UVA were unsure of their place in the world. LOTL was created to bring together UVA and the Charlottesville community, in order to support each other and celebrate our bond. LOTL occurs in early December on the Thursday before exams begin. Lights are strung all along the Lawn Rooms, Pavilions, and the Rotunda beforehand, and don't turn on until 10pm. Before the lighting, there's an acapella concert, a countdown, and ~boom~ the lights are on. The lights are synced to the Top 50 hits and thousands of students party together until we tire ourselves out. It's such a wonderful and meaningful event that no student should miss.
As per tradition: when it snows a lot, people break out into snowball fights. On the midnight of a snowstorm at UVA, students run to the Lawn to partake in the largest snowball fight you'll ever see. It's overwhelming and awesome to see the snow whizzing through the air while hearing the laughs and battlecries of your peers. Though it doesn't happen every year due to Virginia's climate, when it happens it's incredible. Don't miss out like I did because you don't believe that the entire student body would show up to the Lawn at midnight, because you'll miss out in a ton of fun.
Spring Fest is a really chill event that UPC puts on in April. Basically it's an event on the Lawn with live music, food trucks, free stuff, and lots of great people. This past year we had student bands play as well as my favorite, Misterwives! They put on a great performance and the best part is that it was free! It's also so gorgeous in Virginia this time of year, so laying on the Lawn is the best thing you can do to enjoy your afternoon on a lovely Spring day.
Graduation is an event that, thankfully, I won't partake in for two more years. Graduation for your class happens, traditionally, on the Lawn just as Thomas Jefferson (TJ) would have wanted it. During Convocation we face the Rotunda, as we are facing our education. At Graduation we face Old Cabell Hall which is blocking the Blue Ridge Mountains. We face the mountains because that represents our life after college and was really symbolic and important to Jefferson. Another fun thing that we do is carry really fun balloons with us as we walk.