Kansas State University Traditions
Rock Chalk Chant
C.J. Werner was a little shocked the first time he attended a Kansas
University basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse. As he waited for the
game to begin, the two guys next to him put their arms around him and
began to sing.
Werner, who came to KU in 1995 from Hutchinson, was one of many students
to experience one of KU's greatest traditions: the singing of the
alma mater followed by the famous KU Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant.
"At first I didn't know what was going on," Werner said. "Then
I looked around and saw that everyone was putting their arms around
each other and singing, so I tried to follow along. When they started
the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant, I picked it up pretty quickly because
it was easy to follow."
The tradition of the Rock Chalk Chant dates to 1866. The chant first
began as "rah rah rah Jayhawk" repeated three times. Several
years later, an English professor suggested Rock Chalk so that it
would rhyme with Jayhawk. It was also suggested because of all the
chalk rock- or limestone- found throughout the region.
In 1897 it became the official cheer for Kansas University. The Rock
Chalk chant is a tradition that must be heard to be appreciated.
The chant begins low and gradually builds in volume. There are pauses
between each word to allow the students a few seconds to yell and
scream. By the end of the chant, the gym erupts as students yell as
loud as they can.
"I had heard the chant before when I would watch the games on TV,"
said Grant Gibson, Lyons sophomore. "But when I actually heard
the chant in person, I couldn't believe it. It was awesome."
Crimson and Blue
The alma mater came to be in 1891 when George Barlow Penny decided
to look for a school song for the Glee and Mandolin Club to sing.
Barlow decided to change a few words to Cornell University's "Far
Above Cayuga's Water," and "Crimson and the Blue" became
the school song.
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