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Issue of the Week: Has 'A' tradition lost usefulness?

Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 1, 2003

Throngs of freshmen descended upon Tucson's A' mountain, blue paint and buckets in hand, last Saturday. The event, part of Blue Key's A-Day,' was created to inspire fledgling Wildcats to take part in the traditions and community of the UA. ASUA, which is notoriously stingy when it comes to allocations, cut the group a $1,100 check from the club funding pot. We asked our columnists: Does A-Day warrant such extraordinary generosity, or is it a quaint throwback that has outlasted its usefulness?

A-Day painting tradition should be continued

The A-Day event is a long-standing tradition at this university that dates back to 1916 and should be respected and perpetuated, as it has left an indelible mark on the Tucson community for almost 90 years. The principles behind A-Day, learning UA history and the Bear Down chant, are all important aspects of school pride for participating freshmen.

The Blue Key National Honorary may organize A-Day, but it is not the one who fronts the bill you do. ASUA gives Blue Key money to keep A-Day a valued tradition; this year the funds totaled $1,095 ($100 dollars less than they asked for). In recent years, ASUA has given Blue Key as much as $1,650 so costs have been cut, to an extent. Three hundred students participate, which requires renting five buses and buying 20 gallons of paint and 500 gallons of water.

Ryan Scalise

Although A-Day is a time-honored tradition, the entire student body should not have to front the entire bill for the event, simply because it is not an event for the student body at large; it is geared toward freshmen and not all freshmen participate in it. Furthermore, as we all know, university finances are really tight.

A-Day is the only event that Blue Key plans on holding for the 2003-2004 school year, so it should have the time to raise funds to cover costs. Perhaps Blue Key should ask for more donations from local Tucson business or co-opt other clubs or honoraries to split costs.

Ryan Scalise is a political science senior. He can be reached at

Let the spirited freshmen have their day of fun

Sabrina Noble

Amidst all the talk of the budget and new faculty hirings, of course we'd want to pinch our pennies. But hey, sometimes a good expense is one that's just for the fun of it. For the cost of transportation, brooms and lots of blue paint, 300 freshmen got to play and demonstrate their school spirit.

Sure, we've gotten the colors mixed up and should technically fix the A' to follow national protocol. And yeah, it didn't exactly need to be repainted. Honestly, though, who cares? Sometimes we just need to put the adult seriousness aside and throw around paint in the morning air.

I had the pleasure of watching one freshman whom had been "smurfed" worry over her blue-stained hair that same afternoon, just to say with a laugh that it was worth it. The freshmen could certainly be doing worse than spending ASUA money beautifying some rocks and their clothing. For so many, the A' is a source of pride, especially after its post-Sept. 11 makeover.

Symbols aren't free and neither is any activity that builds a sense of community especially at a school as large as the UA, where it's so easy to feel like a nameless face in the crowd. From atop A' Mountain, freshmen could get a good view of their campus as just another place filling a few city blocks. From up there, it's a manageable size, a place that can easily feel like home.

Were there better ways to spend the money than on A-Day? Obviously. But is innocent fun sometimes a worthy end in itself? Definitely.

Sabrina Noble is an English and creative writing senior. She can be reached at

Yay for pride of A-Day

Daniel Scarpinato

Traditions are vulnerable things. If not carefully caressed they can easily die.

A-Day is one way of holding onto a valuable tradition: painting the giant A' that sits above our city.

If flipping a few bucks to keep that heritage alive is what it takes, then do it.

This school has 30-some thousand students, so it's hard to keep seemingly silly traditions going strong. It's also incredibly hard to maintain a muscled amount of school spirit on campus.

But with events like A-Day and organizations like Arizona Ambassadors and Freshman Class Council, those key elements to our university experience can remain rich.

If we lose our pride in school and our reverence for the UA's past, our college experience will slip into nothing more than class and homework.

Why not make Heritage and Traditions of the University of Arizona, a small but interesting one-credit class, mandatory? In addition, let's cultivate more community- and tradition-building events and activities like A-Day.

Students are interested in knowing what happened in the 100-plus years before they came to the UA. By hanging onto fun, history-rich activities like painting the A,' we are celebrating our history.

ASUA is on the right track to promoting love of school.

Daniel Scarpinato is a journalism and political science senior. He can be reached at

UA clubs lack interest in promoting spirit

Jessica Lee

Absorbing the history and culture of the UA is essential for all students who desire to have a holistic academic experience.

Unfortunately, it takes more than spreading some paint to become a true Wildcat.

The scarring of a local hill with a letter of the alphabet is tacky. Moreover, it is a ridiculous notion to think that an A' represents the entire university. But the presence of the rock logo is beside the point. Rather, what matters now is the continuation of the tradition.

The freshmen that participated in painting the A' got a taste of a UA culture rich in quirky traditions. Being a student is about making time for the little things. Learn who the buildings are named after. Go to the homecoming bonfire. Jingle keys at a football game.

There is entirely not enough dedication to continuing traditions at the UA. Blue Key National Honorary, which sponsored the event, should be commended for its efforts. It is disappointing that a university with over 400 organizations lacks clubs that are interested in promoting campus history and customs.

If investing $1,100 into an event will inspire students to take an active interest the heritage and traditions of the UA, it's a good idea.

The J.P Benedict administration that was elected on a platform of promoting school spirit should encourage the ASUA Senate to toss in much more money for such events.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior. She can be reached at

A-Day good idea, but not the only good idea

Kendrick Wilson

There are many ways to feel connected to the UA by participating in activities. Some choose to participate in organized events like A-Day; others join clubs on campus or take an on-campus job. Who could forget attending the first few basketball games as a freshman?

There is nothing wrong with ASUA spending money supporting A-Day and other events designed to bolster student involvement, especially among freshmen, but involvement in the UA community is a personal thing that must vary from person to person.

Not everyone is going to be interested in attending ball games or participating in the traditional set of clubs. Some students would find participating in a protest rally more fulfilling than attending an event to repaint the A' on A' Mountain. Those who like being outdoors might find joining the hiking club more rewarding than attending A-Day as well.

Encouraging student involvement is worthy of ASUA's money. Students who feel more connected to the UA by participating in this event will hopefully remain involved in the campus community. However, it is unrealistic to expect A-Day to appeal to all students and less conventional ways of being involved on campus deserve respect and money from ASUA as well.

Kendrick Wilson is a political science junior. He can be reached at

A-day good for UA tradition

Jason Poreda

Maybe I'm a sucker for history and tradition, but this was great way to spend ASUA's money. I agree the A-Day court dodging practice punts at the football game was a little much, but few things ASUA sponsors can have the impact on budding Wildcats that A-day does.

Hats off to ASUA for seeing how wonderful this event can be and approving $1,100 to make the journey to A' Mountain possible.

Looking back on my career at the UA, painting the A' is something I regretfully missed. I would have loved to march up the side of the mountain with a mop in one hand and bucket of paint in the other, ready to paint the A.'

Throughout the history of the UA, many Wildcats have been a part of painting the A'; now ASUA is bringing this great UA tradition to more students by sponsoring A-Day.

The 300 freshmen that were able to crawl out of bed on a Saturday morning now have a stake in UA history, with a souvenir blue shirt to prove it. Nobody can take this experience away from them. They can tell their grandchildren, "I helped paint the A' on A' Mountain," and it was our student government that gave them this chance.

Jason Poreda is a political science and communication senior. He can be reached at

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