Leslie Midget Held ’86- Remembering Campus Traditions

It was probably better I didn’t realize as a high school senior that my choice of a college would set the stage for how I would spend the rest of my life. It would influence my selection of friends, my beliefs, where I would choose to live and whom I would marry. I was naïve enough to think I was simply choosing how I would spend the next four years.

Fortunately, I chose well: a great school where getting involved was as easy as raising my hand. At graduation, I assumed my Simpson Experience was complete. Little did I know, it was just beginning. When I returned to campus as director of alumni relations, I looked forward to renewing friendships and making a contribution. I now am owner, with my husband, of Bob’s Custom Trophies in Indianola.

When I served as director of alumni relations, I discovered a deeper appreciation for Simpson, our history and the traditions that connect us. Beloved traditions like Campus Day, in the early days called “Flunk Day,” have created fond memories for multiple generations of Simpson alumni. The camaraderie between students, staff, faculty and alumni during Campus Day is just as evident today as it was when I was a student.

Many of you may remember the Grade Cup, which remains one of the most coveted awards on campus. Each semester, the cup is given to the men’s and women’s housing units with the highest cumulative GPA for the previous semester. The competition for the cup these days is nothing short of fierce. I’ve discovered students studying on Saturday nights with the goal of winning in mind.

Other memories that take our alumni back include Miniature Orpheum, All College Sing and Homecoming competitions. At one time pinnings were announced in The Simpsonian, much like engagements, and always justified a serenade. How many of our older couples met in Chapel? Surely, we all stole kisses beneath the whispering maples.

Many of these traditions remain an important part of the Simpson Experience, even as new ones evolve. My class, the Class of 1986, placed a bronze seal in the sidewalk in front of Old Chapel (now College Hall) to celebrate its reopening. We had no idea that future generations would believe stepping on it was bad luck and would cause them to fail their next test. Many students skip over it on their way across campus.

The College Gates were a gift from the Class of 1912. In the 1990s, they sparked one of our most touching traditions. Each fall, on Move-In Day, first-year students gather with their families in the quad for a ceremony. In the midst of a hymn, the students rise and hug their loved ones goodbye. As a class, they walk through the gates together to begin their journey as students. Four years later, on Commencement Day, members of the class walk back through the gates in the opposite direction to symbolize the completion of their journey as students.

Little do they know, their Simpson Experience has just begun.

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