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University Traditions

The official seal of New York University combines a silver ceremonial “torch of learning,” which is carried in formal academic processions, with a group of four running figures symbolizing effort or striving in the pursuit of learning. The seal carries the Latin motto “Perstare et Praestare,” which is generally translated as “to persevere and to excel.”

The origin of the University color, violet, is obscure. It may have been chosen because in years gone by violets are said to have grown abundantly in Washington Square and around the buttresses of the original university building. On the other hand, it may have been adopted because the violet was the flower associated with Athens, that center of learning in the ancient world, and was thus regarded as an appropriate symbol of education and knowledge.

For more than a century, NYU athletes have worn violet and white colors in competition, and have carried the resulting nickname – the Violets – with pride. While a student dressed as a violet served as the school mascot for a brief time in the 1980s, it was decided that the flower did not instill great awe or foreboding in NYU’s opponents. A new mascot was conceived from the name of the Bobst Library card catalog, or Bobst Catalog. Today, the Bobcat mascot symbolizes both NYU’s academic and athletic traditions. 

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