Keeping with tradition: MU customs and legends

From rubbing David R. Francis' nose to walking through the columns, here's everything you need to know about MU traditions.
Before the semester begins, incoming freshmen run through the Columns, as part of a tradition called Tiger Walk.

Didn’t pay enough attention on your tour of campus? Fear not! We’ve got you covered for all of MU’s traditions.

David R. Francis’ nose

David R. Francis is well on his way to becoming the next Michael Jackson: Neither are strangers to nose jobs.

Francis’ bust keeps a watchful eye over the antics going on in the Quad. Give his nose a quick rub on the way to an exam, and legend has it that you’ll get an “A.” Disclaimer: studying never hurts.

Switzler Hall bell tower

The bell atop the newly renovated Switzler Hall doesn’t get out too often. It only rings on three separate occasions, all by request: on Tap Day, following the death of a member of the MU family or to honor the Mizzou ’39.

In the past, the bell rang before each class – until 1906. In turmoil over a refused Easter break, students tied the clapper of the bell so it couldn’t ring.

Tiger Walk and Tiger Prowl

Shortly before classes begin, all incoming freshmen gather on the Quad for Tiger Walk. Symbolizing their entrance into MU, they walk through the Columns toward Jesse Hall.

Right before graduating, seniors walk through the Columns the opposite way for Tiger Prowl. This event ends on Carnahan Quadrangle, where seniors are given free food and beer.

Both events are hosted by the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Tiger Stripe Ice Cream

After you walk through the Columns during Tiger Walk, a cup of Tiger Stripe Ice Cream will immediately be thrust into your hands.

Buck’s Ice Cream, located in Eckles Hall, creates this masterpiece.

Engineering Week

March 17, 1903, was a big day for MU’s engineers. That day, they learned they were pursuing the same career path as St. Patrick. Seeing this as a fitting reason to skip classes en masse on St. Patrick’s Day, the students flooded to the Quad and downtown for some beer.

Eventually, this celebration became the annual Engineering Week, which includes both educational activities and entertainment. Jesse Hall even likes to get in on the fun: the building's dome is green for the whole week.

Journalism Archway

Legend has it that many years ago, two students were walking through the Journalism School archway talking about having successfully cheated on an exam. However, the J school dean heard them and consequently failed them. To avoid the same fate, students traditionally speak in a whisper under the archway.

The stone lions in the archway are also said to roar when a virgin walks past. If you hear them make a sound, you’ll be their first.


One hundred years ago, the first Homecoming ceremony in the world was held at MU. For the football game against Kansas, then football coach Chester Brewer invited all alumni to “come back home” for the game.

Today, MU is said to have the biggest Homecoming celebration in the nation. Events include a parade, a blood drive, tailgating and many more activities.

Painting the ‘M’

Freshmen created the stone ‘M’ on the north end zone of Faurot Field after a victory against Kansas State in 1927. Before a Nebraska game in 1950, the ‘M’ was changed to an ‘N’ as a prank. A groundskeeper gathered students to help him restore the ‘M’ before the game, and each year since, the freshmen class traditionally whitewashes the ‘M’ for upkeep.

Memorial Union Archway

Memorial Union was built in tribute to the soldiers who fell while fighting for the United States. To honor this, those passing through its archway are encouraged to tip their hats and speak in hushed tones.

And this isn’t a joke. Many times you’ll see people stop talking on their cell phones as they make the five-second walk through the arch.

Tap Day

In the spring, students, faculty and staff with high achievement are recognized at Tap Day. Occurring on the Quad, the new members of MU’s six secret honor societies are revealed at this event.

Let’s get married

Find someone in your first week at MU that you want to spend the rest of your life with? You’re in luck. Tradition has it that if you walk across Peace Park’s bridge with your significant other, you might as well propose right there.

If you have a thing for engineers, head over to the stone shamrock outside of Lafferre Hall and walk across. Legend has it that you’ll now marry an engineer.

Things to do before you graduate

  • Ride the bronze tiger on Tiger Plaza
  • Streak the Quad
  • Swim in Brady Fountain
  • Climb Jesse Hall
  • Explore the steam tunnels
  • Scream either “I love Mizzou!” or “Fuck KU!” three times in Speakers Circle
  • Kiss Faurot Field's 50-yard line

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