Hampton University Traditions

 Nia White | Staff Writer

Hampton University has had many traditions in the past 153 years. Some of these traditions have stayed the same and others have evolved to fit current society. Some of the traditions for freshmen have changed since 1966, with the requirements for men and women being different.

  One of the unique continued Hampton traditions is curfew for the freshman students. 

“Female freshmen had to be in the dorm at night by 9:00pm during the week and 11:00 pm on the weekends” Carey Shorter, Class of 1970 said.

“My most memorable moment at Hampton is running back from Holland with my friends to meet curfew in pre-college. It was our first Holland and we totally forgot that we had a curfew ( a lot of people forgot) so we literally had about 5 minutes to get from Holland [Hall] to Moton. There were so many people running around campus trying to get back to their dorms. Although we were cutting it close it was so fun cutting it close with a bunch of peers,” said Nicole Lowery, a current junior.

  The Freshman dorms are a rich part of Hampton culture because of the relationships that are built there.

“I lived in Davidson Hall and we were known as the Davidson Divas. Freshman dorms were known to have unique names and represented proudly even until today,” said Jenisha Henneghan, an alumni of the Class of 2000. “There was also a Freshman Step Show between the dorms and we represented with custom shirts.”  

  “I enjoyed my freshman dorm, Kennedy Honors Hall  and it was really my RA’s that’s made me enjoy Kennedy so much. They were so full of life and wanted to get to know me, it was great knowing that the upperclassmen wanted to know who I was,” Lowery said.

  The curfew is a mandated rule and is applied to all incoming freshmen. However, freshmen used to be subject to other forms of initiation into the “Hampton Family.”  

  When Carey Shorter ‘70 was a freshman, he recalls when freshman had to wear beanies. 

“Freshmen had to wear beanie caps during the first 2 weeks of classes. After the beanie requirement was met, freshmen were members of the Hampton family,” said Shorter.

  Another important part of Hampton tradition is attire. Some of the attire of Hampton students has changed over the time.  

“When attending a class we could not wear shorts or t-shirts, women had to wear dresses,” Shorter said.

  In more recent years Hampton business attire has only been required for certain events.

“During our freshman year we were also taught Ogden attire.  Everyone knew that meant dress business or business casual. No sneakers or jeans were allowed for certain events such as guest speakers or Convocation. You would be sent to change if you were not dressed appropriately,” Henneghan ‘00  said.

The Hampton attire has taught students how to prepare for the workforce.

  “The Hampton culture is business [professional], we are the standard of excellence; so I wasn’t  surprised we had to dress up a lot. I actually dress up a lot in business clothes because most of the settings I was going into required that, but I also think it prepares us for the real world,” Lowery said.

  There are also attendance requirements for students across all classifications. “[We] had to attend ¾ of a class , and maintain a 2.0 average. Minimum hours to be a full time student was 12 hours,” Shorter said. Attendance requirements also included events outside of class.

Although some may not like or agree with certain Hampton traditions, they have certainly  prepared students for their lives beyond their home by the sea. 

“I worked for IBM as a Technical writer, then went into the army for 3 years.  I then attended the University of New Mexico and took computer science courses. After receiving my masters, I returned to IBM as an electrical engineer,” Shorter said.

  “After graduating from Hampton, I attended Virginia Commonwealth University for Graduate School and received a Doctor of Physical Therapy Degree,” Henneghan said.

  “Hampton has prepared me for my career.  Even though we complained about the dress code and Ogden Attire, I am appreciative of that guidance. Hampton prepared us to know how to dress for all occasions, Henneghan said.

Although some traditions might seem a bit tedious, there is a purpose for all of it. Nicole Lowery said it best, “As African American people, we are often looked down upon or sought out to be less successful, but when we dress like it, talk like it, walk like it and act like it there is no way that people won’t see how we’ve been groomed for what the professional world is throwing at us.”  

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