Issue: Hobo Day is South Dakota State University’s most unique tradition.
A little over 100 years ago South Dakota State College found itself with no way to appropriately greet the visiting football team for the homecoming football game. Nightshirts and bed sheets, having been deemed by the administration less than dignified for the college’s young women to be parading around town in, would no longer do. Needless to say the 1912 homecoming planners were left in something of a lurch.
The day was saved by recent SDSC alumnus Adams Dutcher, then a graduate pharmacy student at the University of Missouri, when he suggested holding a hobo day and greeting the Yankton football team at the train station dressed as hobos. As The Industrial Collegian reported the following week the first Hobo Day “was a success in every respect.”
The rest is history.
Hobo Day has flourished in the years since that fateful day in 1912, though it was challenged early on by both Collegian editors of 1913 and SDSC’s president in 1914. They apparently wanted something called “Dakota Day” instead. Naturally, the student body ignored that ridiculous suggestion. Who in their right mind would want a “Dakota Day” anyway? (The Collegian retroactively apologizes for suggesting that, by the way.)
Hobo Day has grown and changed over the years becoming something none of those who came before us could have imagined. More people flood into Brookings for this one day, or night as the case may be, than for just about anything else in South Dakota. That in and of itself is impressive.
But what makes Hobo Day what it is today is not the masses of people who show up to hit the bars and house parties. It’s not the giant crowd that gathers to watch the parade. It’s us: the students.
The students, who for 100 years have dressed as hobos, bummed a meal off someone and paraded from campus to the train station. Hobo Day is ours, and it’s a lot better than holding the generic homecoming every other school puts on because it’s expected of them.
We, the students and alumni of SDSU, instead of erecting a giant bronze statue of some mangy varmint or giant horned hairy cow with big shoulders, built ourselves a statue of Weary Wil, our mascot — the students’ mascot, not the school’s.
You won’t find that anywhere else and it’s something to be proud of. We are hobos by choice — and proud of it.
Stance: Be proud of the fact that we have a yearly tradition that cannot be found at any other university.