October 25, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

The 12th president logo (left) with Pres. Boer and son running with a torch, students cheer (right)
President Boer experiences his first Chaos Night as university president. His youngest son Markus joined in the fun too!

President Wiebe Boer is the 12th president of Calvin University. So, during the month of October, each week leading up to Inauguration we are sharing a “Top 12” list. This week, Student Body President Nain Miranda asked his peers to provide a list of their favorite student traditions. We took their suggestions and those of some recent alums in putting this list together.

Here's the list, which is meant to be reflective, not exhaustive.

1. Chaos Night

It’s the ultimate residence hall competition where students rally with your new friends for year-long bragging rights. Physical and mental challenges are all part of this intense dorm-on-dorm challenge.

2. Cold Knight Plunge

Every winter, hundreds of students line up and many dress up in costumes as they leap into the ice cold Sem (Seminary) Pond. Pastor Mary and Calvin administrators and faculty have also been known to jump into the action.

3. Living Our Faith Together

For years, LOFT (Living our Faith Together) happened on Sunday nights. The tradition continues, but now on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 9 p.m. During LOFT, the community gathers for a service where they dedicate their lives to Christ through praise, testimony, prayer, and God’s word. The university also has a daily chapel service.

4. The Rivalry

ESPN has called the Hope vs. Calvin men's basketball matchup one of the top three college/university basketball rivalries, right up there with Duke and North Carolina! Through 206 games on the men’s side, the two teams are separated by just 75 total points, a difference of 0.43 points per game.

5. Rangeela

Rangeela is Hindi for “colorful” and is an international student cultural showcase that has brought various parts of the world onto the doorsteps of Grand Rapids, Michigan since 1996.

6. Midnight Madness

During this event, students dress up in costumes and then compete in different style games. There are different costume categories where students can win prizes. A lot of the athletic teams at Calvin will also dress up in themed costumes. The night concludes with the introduction of the lineups for the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a dunk contest.

7. Dance Guild

Calvin’s Dance Guild was founded over 40 years ago and has grown to be the largest student organization on campus—with nearly 350 students participating! Every year, the Dance Guild puts on a fall and a spring show, each with more than 30+ dance pieces. The shows are staged in the Covenant Fine Arts Center to 2,000-person sellout audiences.

8. Christmas Tree Lighting

In early December each year, the Calvin community joins together for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the Commons Lawn. Hot chocolate, cookies, and Christmas caroling are staples of the evening.

9. Cardboard Canoe Contest

While engineering majors are naturally drawn to this competition, students from many majors join in and handcraft vessels out of cardboard and then race them each fall around the Calvin Seminary Pond. The goal is to stay afloat and make it to the finish line.

10. Fall and Spring Formal

Every fall and spring students have the opportunity to dress up for a night of dancing and other activities and head out to a venue somewhere in the Grand Rapids area. The formals are also great for community building as students living in the dorms tend to attend the events together.

11. French Film Festival

It's an opportunity to enjoy the best of French Cinema at Calvin University each fall. And, this fall, the campus enjoyed four plays by Moliere, filmed at the French National Theater in Paris, in honor of the 400th anniversary of his birth.

12. Taco Bell Formal

We finish the list with one of the newest traditions: the Taco Bell Formal (AKA the “Taco Bolt Formal”). It’s actually a tradition started by some guys living on 3rd Bolt just a few years ago. The group started this tradition during the pandemic since there was no Formal during that time. The idea is pretty simple: everyone dresses up as if they are going to a Formal but instead of going to a normal venue, they go to Taco Bell. Former president Michael Le Roy even joined in on the festivities during his tenure.

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