Mason Nation: United in Tradition
Today, Mason has several bustling campuses with an ever-growing student population from all 50 states and 130 countries. There’s so much that unites this diverse community in the Mason experience, including one very particular thing: the university’s numerous fun and quirky traditions.
Dressing Up George
Often draped in Mason gear and grasping green and gold balloons, the George Mason statue is a mainstay of the Fairfax Campus. To advertise activities or celebrate university milestones, student groups jump at the opportunity to dress and decorate George. During Mason spirit events such as Homecoming and College Colors Day, George dons a variety of Mason spirit wear. Events such as International Week, he'll wear a variety of flags or cultural garb contributed by students. At graduation, he can be seen wearing the same green mortarboard hat as the undergraduates.
The Lucky Toe
Statue traditions include superstition as well. Students in Fairfax and Songdo often rub the toe of George's bronze left foot on their way to class, especially before turning in a big paper or taking an exam. Prospective students on tours of the university often rub it for luck with admissions. Why? For good luck, of course! The tradition is so common that the toe has had to be reinforced to better protect it from erosion.
On the flip slide, there used to be two plaques beside the statue. Legend said that stepping on either of the plaques around the statue could mean you won't graduate in four years. Worse yet, rumor was that a prospective student who stepped on the plaque wouldn't even be admitted. Fortunately, in the renovation of the Wilkins Plaza, the George Mason statue was elevated onto a brick platform, with the unlucky plaques embedded in its base, making it much harder to step on them!
This longstanding Mason tradition is uniquely nontraditional. For more than a decade, the Mason community has turned out in full support each February (yes, February) for Homecoming. This winter celebration gives the Mason Nation the opportunity to gather and show their Patriot Pride for the university’s prized men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The quad in front of the Student Union Building (SUB I) has been a gathering place for students since George Mason University's earliest years. The benches that line the walkways between Fenwick Library, SUB I, Horizon Hall, and Krug Hall have long been decorated by Mason's many student organizations.
50 years later, the benches are still a popular gathering place, with more than 350 student groups fiercely competing to paint their own bench with their group's name, mission, emblems, and colors.
While rubbing George’s toe simply caught on, other traditions have been specifically planned to support and commemorate Mason students. Take, for instance, the opportunity for incoming students to adorn their class sign with personal signatures each summer at Orientation. The signs are displayed on the Fairfax Campus and, upon graduation, the Alumni Association hosts a champagne toast at that year’s sign to welcome the newest Patriot alumni.