October 9, 2002: From the Archives

This fall PAW will feature excerpts from Elizabeth Greenberg ’02’s senior thesis about Princeton rituals and student traditions. Greenberg, who hopes to turn her thesis into a book, seeks further anecdotes and memories from PAW’s readers. What activities constituted the Cane Spree when you were an undergraduate? How did you make a mark on this tradition? E-mail Greenberg at eagreenb@alumni.princeton.edu or write to her c/o PAW. To learn more about her project, go to www.princeton.edu/paw.

Cane Spree In 1865 freshmen were not allowed to carry gentlemen’s canes; this privilege was reserved for sophomores and upperclassmen. One evening, when impudent freshmen were strolling on Nassau Street with their carved sticks, sophomores attempted to seize the canes, and a small riot erupted. Within several years, the behavior became formalized into an annual battle between the two classes. Selected representatives would fight for possession of a cane, after which entire classes would participate in a “rush.” By the mid-1930s, one goal of this giant melee was the removal of the rival class’s clothing. After World War II, the Cane Spree competition was managed by the Department of Athletics.

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