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18 Must-Know Traditions for Every New ACU Wildcat

When you step onto the campus at Abilene Christian University, you’re not just joining a school. You’re becoming part of a proud heritage of loyalty and traditions that span more than 118 years of Wildcat spirit! We’ve got traditions that bring our community together, boost our faith, cheer on our athletes and celebrate what it means to be a Wildcat.

Here are 18 traditions every new Wildcat should know:

1. Willie the Wildcat

There really is no specific creature called a wildcat. It represents a genre of felines including the bobcat and lynx. But whatever it looks like, it can be one ornery critter when cornered.

ACU’s familiar mascot was adopted in 1919 after two campus sports clubs – The A Club and the West Texas Club – engaged in a friendly fundraising challenge for the university’s first athletics facility. The West Texas Club brought in the most donations, so they selected the wildcat over the rival’s choice of an antelope.

Today, a student dons a suit made of furry fabric and latex to lend human characteristics while portraying the Wildcat mascot at football and basketball games.

2. School Colors

Exactly when Abilene Christian chose purple and white and who was responsible is more mystery than history. The selections were apparently made sometime between 1908 and 1913, a span in which five different men served as president of the university.

Corrie Acuff (who later became Mrs. Lawrence Hubbard Brasher) claimed that she and Mary Ann Baxter (who became Mrs. Reeble Wallace) were asked by President Jesse P. Sewell during the 1912-13 school year to take Sewell’s Bible, look through it and choose the official school colors. They selected purple, the color of the robe placed on Christ at the crucifixion, and white for purity.

On the other hand, O.M. Reyolds, who graduated from Childers Classical institute (later to become Abilene Christian) and stayed on to work as a janitor and song leader, wrote in a historical paper that a group of students met during the 1908-09 school year in the southeast upper room the first Administration Building and made the color choices.

Whatever the origin, the colors purple and white have become the familiar symbol of school pride for ACU Wildcats everywhere.

3. Purple Fridays

With 17 NCAA Division I athletic teams, there’s no shortage of hype on our campus – and that energy extends beyond the courts and fields. Our enthusiasm manifests across campus every Friday as students, staff and faculty wear their purple and white gameday attire. Whether you’re rooting for an athletic team or encouraging your friends with their coursework, a little purple and a lot of Wildcat spirit go a long way!

4. W-C

Tout your Wildcat pride with the W-C gesture of loyalty: the “OK” hand symbol with an open “O” (you’ll see the letters!). On campus, we hold the W-C high while we sing “Oh, Dear Christian College” and cheer on our athletes.

5. The Singing College

Abilene Christian was once known as “The Singing College,” thanks to the unbeaten 1950 Wildcat football team, which belted out heavenly tunes such as “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” on radio shows when it wasn’t smashing foes into the next county. Not all ACU football teams since have been blessed with four-part harmony, but the rest of the student body has picked up the slack. You may find yourself surrounded by perfect strangers as a new student, but you’ll manage to make beautiful music together from day one.

6. “Oh, Dear Christian College”

Since 1934, we’ve been repping ACU’s mission through uplifting renditions of “Oh, Dear Christian College,” penned by educator and innovator Dr. G.C. Morlan and with music arranged by music department chair Dr. Leonard Burford (’25). Once you hear it, you’ll want to sing along too:

Oh, dear Christian College, we love you,
Our dear Alma Mater, today;
Like the stars shining brightly above you,
Your fame shall shine brightly for aye.
To you we’ll prove faithful and loyal
While ever upholding the right,
And gladly we’ll give forth the royal
Three cheers for the purple and white.

Then we’ll pledge our love to Christian,
To her is honor due;
While we gaily sing let praises ring
For our alma mater true.

7. “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”

We often close out campus events with this special hymn, a reminder of the remarkable promise of our faith and the devoted community that inspires us in the face of obstacles.

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious, and be gracious;
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.

Watch the performance of this uplifting song by ACU’s Virtual Choir.

8. Wildcat Athletics

The remarkable success of Wildcat athletics over the years is a tribute to the students, the coaches and the tradition of winning that permeates the program. We recruit our student-athletes for their academic and spiritual qualities, as well as their athletic abilities. Only four colleges and universities – including UCLA, Stanford and USC – have won more NCAA national team championships than the Wildcats. With 57 team championships, the fifth most in NCAA history, the Wildcats are true winners in every sense of the word!

9. Chapel

Get ready to experience the many facets of ACU Chapel, where worship comes alive with devotion, song and camaraderie! The whole experience only lasts about 30 minutes but the impact will last your entire life.

  • Moody Chapel is one of the university’s longest standing traditions. Multiple times each week, you’ll gather with the entire student body, along with faculty and staff, to worship together, often with guest speakers sharing insights on a biblical theme.
  • Departmental Chapels intertwine spiritual growth with the celebration of community. Engage with peers and mentors within your major as you focus on the intersection of faith and your future career. It’s not just a gathering; it’s a gateway to forging meaningful connections with others in your academic field.
  • Small Group Chapels encourage you to gather with friends who share your passions, whether it’s your faith denomination, residence hall, sorority or fraternity, or social justice cause. Together, delve into Scripture, uplift each other through prayer, and foster bonds that transcend the ordinary.
  • Friday’s Chapel, known as “Praise Day,” is an upbeat experience devoted entirely to singing worship songs. You won’t want to miss the Fridays when Dr. Steven Moore leads his popular rendition of “Highways and Byways,” complete with hand motions.

No matter which Chapel setting you find yourself in, one thing’s for certain – you’ll walk away with a heart full of love and a profound sense of belonging. Here at ACU, we’re not just a university; we’re a family, united in faith and fellowship!

10. Move-In Day

Your warm reception into the ACU family begins with move-in day. You and your parents will drive up to a residence hall and see a well-orchestrated crew of faculty, staff and other Wildcat volunteers eager to help you lug all your boxes and luggage into your new room, making your move onto campus effortless. This is just the first of many moments you’ll find yourself immersed in an atmosphere of being served, cared for and welcomed.

11. Wildcat Week

Just prior to the fall semester each year, our campus comes alive with Wildcat Week, the official welcome to campus for new students. The week is jam-packed full of activities for you to learn about ACU, worship with your new classmates and get prepped for the semester ahead. You’ll bond with fellow freshmen while performing community service and meeting with mentor groups. To cap off the week, you’ll join the entire study body to celebrate the beginning of another school year with the annual Back to School Bash concert. By week’s end, you’ll feel right at home.

12. Candlelight Devo

The Candlelight Devo is one of the highlights of Wildcat Week when first-year students gather outdoors to sing praise to God by the light of a thousand candles. Then, as Commencement approaches each May, graduating seniors return to this time-honored tradition to experience a Candlelight Sendoff from faculty, staff and local alumni. It’s truly something special.

13. Parade of Flags

Each year, our Opening Assembly begins with The Parade of Flags, recognizing all the diverse states and nations that ACU students represent. A procession of administrators and faculty in full academic regalia marches into Moody Coliseum, followed by students from each country and state carrying his or her flag, often dressed symbolically in cultural attire. After this international celebration, we come together in worship, devotion and prayer before the Big Purple Marching Band launches us into the new academic year with “March Grandioso.”

14. Family Weekend

Early in the semester, we invite the families of freshmen back to campus for a fun-filled Family Weekend, giving them a glimpse of university life. You and your families will attend Chapel, a football game in Wildcat Stadium and lots of other special events. The highlight of the weekend is Freshman Follies, a music variety show performed by first-year students.

15. Freshman Follies

As a first-year student, you’ll be able to showcase your artistry and originality in our freshman-only lip sync competition during Family Weekend. While Freshman Follies has changed many times since its first incarnation in 1970, it remains one of the highlights of the fall semester for the ACU community. Participating in Follies during your first few weeks on campus is one of the best ways to create friendships, build community, and open up future leadership and performance opportunities during your time at ACU.

16. Homecoming

We enter autumn with a whirlwind weekend of enthusiasm celebrating all we’ve accomplished and looking ahead to everything the future holds. Alumni join us on campus for great food and big events, like our Homecoming football game, tailgate party, early-morning parade and Homecoming Musical. This cherished tradition fosters a sense of community, pride and belonging among students and alumni, with plenty of opportunities for fun and celebration mixed in.

17. Litmas

As the fall semester comes to a close, you’ll join your fellow Wildcats at ACU’s annual Litmas Christmas celebration and tree lighting ceremony at the GATA Fountain. You’ll enjoy hot chocolate, snacks, live music and shopping at student vendor booths. Then, join the excitement as the Christmas tree lights up in a dazzling display of color and brilliance. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and support ACU entrepreneurs by finding the perfect gift before heading home for the Christmas break!

18. Sing Song

Since 1957, ACU fraternities, sororities and classes have competed in one of the university’s most-loved traditions. Sing Song is an a cappella medley competition with themed lyrical twists, costumes and choreography. Thousands of students, parents and alumni attend each year – especially for the sold-out final Saturday show. Watch the 2023 freshman class performance of “We’re Off to See the Wonderful Wizard of ‘Oz’CU!”

All part of the ACU journey

These traditions are just the beginning of your ACU journey. Get ready for an unforgettable experience filled with friendships, memories and Wildcat pride!

Ready to experience ACU for yourself? Schedule a campus visit today:

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