Slope Day: Wikis


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Slope Day is an annual day of celebration held at Cornell University during the last day of regular undergraduate classes. It usually falls on the first Friday of May and the official site of Slope Day is the Libe Slope, on the university campus. Though Slope Day has gone through many phases, in recent years focus has shifted to live music and catered food and beverages on the Slope. Slope Day is notorious for the heavy drinking many students participate in before, during, and after scheduled events.


History of Slope Day

Slope Day, then known as Spring Day, in 1904

Slope Day's origins can be traced to 1890, when the annual Navy Ball began on the Cornell University campus. The Navy Ball, held in October on the day before a major regatta on Cayuga Lake, was an evening dance with a band for the purpose of raising funds to support the Cornell crew and other athletic programs. Students traditionally skipped classes on the day of the regatta following the ball. In 1901, the Navy Ball was moved from October to May for the first time, and a committee including John L. Senior, Willard Straight, and Henry Schoellkopf arranged the event and entertainment. Attendance in classes on the following day was dismal, and in 1902, the university declared the following day a holiday called Spring Day. The annual Spring Day festivities involved a wide range of activities, from mock bullfights to circuses, typically on the Arts Quad. Spring Day remained a Cornell tradition for over 50 years.[1][2] However, during the 1960s and 1970s, official Spring Day celebrations were considered an anachronism, as Cornell was in the midst of Vietnam-era protests and civil unrest.

This supposed 'era of turmoil' did not stop WVBR from hosting a live concert featuring a multi-hour lineup of local bands which coincided with the Spring Housing and Dining chicken barbecue on the slope in Spring 1971. About 2000 fun-loving people were in the picnic audience and it was broadcast live.

In 1979, an event then called "Springfest" was held on the last day of classes. Cornell Dining sponsored a chicken barbecue on Libe Slope and served beer to the students. At the time, New York State's drinking age was 18, making it easy for the university to sponsor both food and alcohol service for the event. For the next six years, Springfest involved live bands playing at the base of Libe Slope, with students dancing and drinking on the Slope itself. In December 1985, New York state raised the drinking age to 21, so University officials announced that the 1986 Springfest would be held in a fenced-in area on North Campus instead of the Slope. The student body responded with a massive "Take Back the Slope" campaign. All across campus, T-shirts, signs and chalk on sidewalks beckoned students to boycott the official Springfest and "Take Back the Slope." They did by the thousands, and the name "Slope Day" replaced "Springfest." In 1987, the University caved to pressure and had Robert Cray play on the Slope, but by 1988 the bands were gone once again and Slope Day became an unofficial event. For the next decade or so, the University tolerated Slope Day, and took little action to control it except for the banning of beer kegs in 1990. For many students the focus of Slope Day became the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol.[citation needed]

Libe Slope

Starting in the mid 90s, the University began a more gradual reining in of Slope Day, instead of repeating the failed strategy of regaining control all at once. SlopeFest, an alcoholic-free event featuring carnival-style entertainment started to take place on West Campus in 1999. In 2001, the amount and type of alcohol students could bring onto the slope was limited. Starting in 2003, the Slope Day Steering Committee (initially organized as the President's Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs by president-emeritus Hunter S. Rawlings III) took charge of Slope Day, restricted access to Libe Slope, brought live entertainment, and provided catered food and drink service. This time, the University's assertion of control succeeded.

The students did not revolt, as their predecessors had done in the late 1980s. Thus, a new era of the Slope Day celebration began.

Recent Slope Day measures have tried to limit excess underage drinking. Bracelets with tabs that are used as tickets to purchase alcohol are only offered to those who are of age, and only one drink is sold per purchase. Free water was handed out to all attendees in 2006, and several volunteers on the slope supervised students. However, a large number of students were still reported to the health center.[citation needed]

Current Slope Day Activities

In the fall of 2003 the Slope Day Programming Board was created by the Cornell University Student Assembly (SA) to lead the planning of social and recreational activities on Slope Day. The Slope Day Programming Board (SDPB) has an open membership policy for all undergraduate and graduate students at Cornell, and it works closely with university administrators and the Slope Day Steering Committee. The SDPB aims to create a fun and safe celebration for the entire Cornell community. Recently, access to these activities on Libe Slope and Ho Plaza and at nearby campus locations has been restricted to Cornell students, faculty, and staff, as well as selected guests.

Snoop Dogg performing during Slope Day '05.
OAR performed at Slope Day in 2004.


Live musical performances are typically held during Slope Day. Past live performances included:


SlopeFest is a carnival type event accompanying Slope Day. In the past, this event has included various raffles, an airbrush tattoo artist and inflatable games. Started in 1999 by concerned students of the Slope Day Programming Board, SlopeFest was held on West Campus and hosted carnival-style games, food, and live musical performances. Starting in 2004, SlopeFest was incorporated into the main events of Slope Day and held inside the event perimeter. SlopeFest is now held on Ho Plaza. The Slope Day Programming Board, composed of students, plans all aspects of SlopeFest.


The S.O.S (Save our Slope) subcommittee of the Slope Day Programming Board recruits and trains Cornell student, faculty, and staff volunteers to ensure that students are safe on the slope by guarding and maintaining the fences and entries, passing out free water bottles and notifying Police/EMS services if a student is suspected of having an emergency. Formally known as Students Offering Support, since the inclusion of faculty and staff volunteers, it has been re-named "Save our Slope." These volunteers usually wear brightly colored shirts and other identifiable apparel to be easily recognizable to students attending the event. Over 800 volunteers are trained every year.


External links


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