A Window Into the Past: NYU in Retrospect
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What Does One Do When Not Attending Classes?
Traditions: Chasing a cane; playing hide-and-seek with an old piece of bread; dunking a classmate in a tub of water; tugging on a rope; eating pancakes. None of these things affects a GPA. But almost since NYU's inception, activities like these have added some spice to student life.

The earliest NYU students lived at home or boarded near campus. They met for chapel, attended classes, and then their time was their own. Some students formed literary societies, like the Philomathean Society, established at NYU in 1832, and the Eucleian Society, in 1833. These groups offered students a forum for formal debating, oratory, or presenting their own poetry and prose.

Fraternities (like the Delta chapter of Phi Upsilon, founded at NYU in 1837 and Delta Phi, in 1841) were also popular in the late nineteenth century. The first fraternities at NYU were social ones, later groups sought to attract students with their athletic, professional, intellectual, and service activities. Fraternity membership has peaked and fallen from decade to decade: according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, there are currently 25 fraternities and sororities at NYU.

Students also formed other groups. The Knights of the Lamp was a social organization founded in 1914 at the School of Commerce. It allegedly met every full moon and had the glowworm as its mascot. Clubs today fill interests from cultural heritage to business to politics to Victorian studies.

Musical revues like the 1907 NYU Senior Show or performing groups like the 1964 Glee Club gave students a chance to explore common interests and share them with an audience. Music gave students another outlet as well. Dances, from the formal 1911 Promenade to the 1960 prom to the informal gatherings of the early 90s, offered social interaction and a chance to shake the student body.

Community Service is a tradition at NYU: medical and dental students provide care to the needy; law students contribute services to the disenfranchised; business students work with settlement houses; social work students assist community agencies. There are currently over one hundred service-oriented clubs at NYU.

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