“UP dietician debunks freshman 15 myth” The Beacon, 23 September 2010
“Freshmen 15: Part of the meal plan?” The Beacon, 15 September 2011
“Bon Appetit adapts for students with gluten allergies” The Beacon, 4 October 2012
“Freshmen 15 myth flops” The Beacon, 19 September 2013
There are certain perennial themes and stereotypes that govern the headlines of the opening weeks of school, predictably returning each year along with the student population: homesickness, study habits, the dreaded freshmen fifteen.
In UP history, the freshmen-15 was once a literal, external, and potentially lethal phenomenon – well, lethal insofar as a small boulder close to hand might, as a blunt instrument, be turned spontaneously against an inconsiderate roommate. (Roommate-relations another oft recycled back-to-school theme.)
Part of the ritual of rushing Upsilon Omega Pi fraternity was the reception of a 15 pound pledge rock; nicknames were also bestowed. Pledges harvested their own rock from scree at the base of the Bluff. Upsilon Omega Pi (see related entry, under keyword hearse) was a campus service organization, chartered as the Pep Club in 1950; they were the core organizers for the beach party, toga dance, bonfire, and week-long homecoming festivities; the fraternity also served as the caretakers and animators of Wally Pilot.
According to the 1984 Reference Manual, “Over the past 35 years it has been tradition for pledges to carry a symbolic Upsilon Rock. This Rock builds strength, not just physical strength but also mental strength.” The rocks were not only symbolic, and so woe betide the pledge who was found without his assigned rock in his possession during the five-week pledge period. The surviving specimen on display in the University Museum weighs at least 15 pounds and is painted with the pledge’s nickname and the Greek letters U-o-P: Upsilon Omega Pi.