More than 1,600 graduating seniors participated in Senior Sendoff on Friday, walking away from Jesse Hall and through the columns to symbolize their leaving MU.
The annual event, also known as Tiger Prowl, is part of an end-of-year celebration sponsored by the Mizzou Alumni Association. After their walk through the columns, students were invited to attend a reception on Carnahan Quadrangle, where they were treated to free food, beer and entertainment.
The tradition began in 2000 as a complement to Tiger Walk, an event in which freshmen walk through the columns toward Jesse Hall before classes start to commemorate their entrance into MU. The event, which is held only once a year, was open to May and December 2011 graduates.
Although the event took place before finals week, it serves as a precursor to graduation ceremonies May 13 and 14, when 5,319 degrees will be distributed.
Seniors gathered before the event to greet friends and take pictures in front of the columns and Jesse Hall. After a “M-I-Z-Z-O-U” chant, the crowd walked through the columns to commemorate their entrance into the real world.
Chancellor Brady Deaton addressed the students before they made their trek across the quad, congratulating them on their achievements.
“On behalf of the faculty and staff, we’re thrilled for you,” he said. “As the song says, you can leave Mizzou, but Mizzou won’t leave you.”
Participants said the event was an appropriate ending to their years at MU.
“I ran the first way,” participant Alanna Nunez said. “If I didn’t run the other way, I would feel weird, like I hadn’t really completed my college career.”
Others said they saw the day as an opportunity to say goodbye to their classmates.
“I want to say goodbye to some people, because I know I’ll never see some of these people again,” participant Eliot Thomas said.
Alumni Association Student Board member Kevin Valliere, who helped coordinate the event, said Senior Sendoff has special meaning for its planners.
“We really get to serve the seniors on this one,” he said. “A lot of us know seniors very well, so for us to be able to set up this event and let them have a real good time on the Quad before they start heading out is a real special thing for us.”
Valliere also said the chance to drink beer on campus, which is normally not allowed, was a draw.
“I think people like the idea of drinking a couple beers on the Quad,” he said. “There’s obviously a little bit of a draw to that. It’s just kind of a fun way to celebrate going out.”