Murray State Traditions
Murray State has a rich history of traditions that link generations of students. Come be a part of it.
The Shoe Tree
A stone’s throw away from Pogue Library, the shoe tree sits in the sun, at least 50 pairs of mismatched shoes nailed to it. Although no one on campus can say when the tradition of the shoe tree began, it has become an integral part of Murray State's history. If two students meet at Murray State, fall in love and then marry, they will have good luck if each partner nails a shoe to the shoe tree. Lovers usually write their anniversaries on their shoes as well. It is also common for people to return to nail a baby shoe to the tree when they’ve started their family. The current shoe tree is actually the second, because the first was struck by lightning and subsequently caught fire. Even today, the shoe “tree” is more of a stump because its limbs have been cut off to minimize the risk of fire.
To ease new students into the Murray State swing of things, the university created
its Great Beginnings program. It starts off with faculty, staff, student organizations
and community members working together to help students move in. Following move-in
day, there is an
entire week of activities designed to familiarize new students, commuters and residents alike, with the university and welcome them to the community, and subsequently get students’ semesters started out on a good foot. Activities include Racer Hospitality meet-and-greets, luncheons, city tours, campus tours, residential college lawn parties, presentations and informational skits, movie nights, book signings and the annual appearance by hypnotist Tom Deluca. The program has been welcoming new students to Murray since 1994.
Every homecoming football game needs a good round of tailgating to set it up, but
MurrayState has its own approach to meeting and greeting.
Held annually since 1989, Tent City houses nearly 50 tents set up on the east side of the track at Roy Steward Stadium. The tents represent a multitude of Murray State groups, from Greek organizations and
student clubs to academic departments and residential colleges. The organizations use Tent City as a chance to mingle with alumni and raise funds for their semester activities, while also providing entertainment for homecoming spectators.
All Campus Sing
Each April since 1958, students, faculty, staff and local residents alike crowd the
lawn in front of Lovett Auditorium for the Sigma Alpha Iota-sponsored All Campus Sing.
Groups of students choreograph and perform brief musical numbers on Lovett’s steps,
with prizes handed out to the top performers in the categories of residential colleges,
student organizations, fraternities, sororities and independent clubs. The even is
now also partially sponsored by the Murray State Alumni Association and the Office
of Student Affairs, which usually announces at the event the new students elected
to the Student Government Association for the
next academic year. The organizers encourage participants and spectators to bring old musical instruments to the show, which are then donated to area grade school music programs.
Started in 1938, Campus Lights is the longest-running musical that is entirely produced
and performed by students in the South. Phi Mu Alpha
Symfonia, the music fraternity, started the production as a means to fund its charter fees. Today, along with the Sigma Alpha Iota music sorority, it is an annual fundraiser for Murray State’s music department scholarships. Recent productions have included “Annie Get Your Gun,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Godspell,” “Fame” and “The Music Man.”
Racer One's Celebratory Lap
Some football teams do a happy dance when they sink a play into the endzone. At Murray State, the touchdown celebration is a little more flashy and much more unique. Since 1976, every home-game touchdown is marked by a thoroughbred, nicknamed Racer One, running a celebration lap on the running track around the football field. Violet Cactus was the first horse to fill Racer One’s shoes, and when she died in 1984, she was buried adjacent to the north endzone at Roy Stewart Stadium, near where Racer One begins its victory lap. A different horse usual performs Racer One’s duties each year, along with a new jockey.
On the morning of homecoming, hand-crafted floats line up around the Murray square and student organizations parade along Main Street to Murray State’s campus, greeting and passing out candy and party favors to the other students and residents crowding the street. Special participants of interest include Racer One, marching bands (especially Racer Band) and political candidates. Each year, a notable alum leads the parade as the grand marshal.
When students hit the books, they tend to forsake good eating habits. That's why for the last several years, Murray State has offered students a hearty meal to fuel their late-night preparation of final exams. The Sunday night before finals week, thousands of students pass through the lines at Winslow Dining Hall and load up their plates with unlimited servings of scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, biscuits and gravy, French toast sticks, cereal and waffles. Unique to this tradition is the fact that faculty, staff and administration are the ones serving the students. During the typically stressful finals week, Midnight Breakfast's friendly, casual atmosphere brings new meaning to the phrase "comfort food."