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Baylor Alumni

The Folly of Youth

Student Foundation's Freshman Follies provides good, messy fun
By Claire Moncla

Most Baylor folks are familiar with Bear Downs, a thirty-mile relay bike race sponsored annually on campus by Student Foundation. But its counterpart, Fall Downs, has nearly been forgotten in the changing times and traditions of the university. All that remains of Fall Downs is Freshman Follies. 

Student Foundation, whose motto is "students serving students," began hosting the Bear Downs bicycle race in the spring of 1972. Two years later, it instituted a fall event called Cub Downs. In a 1974 Lariat interview, Carroll Fitzgerald '76 and Norma Rush Schultz '76, co-chairs of Cub Downs, agreed that, "One major purpose of the event was to expose Student Foundation to the student body and especially to the freshmen." The first Cub Downs included an intramural swim meet, a tennis tournament, and a golf tournament open to the student body. 

Student Foundation, commonly known as "Stu Fu," changed the name of the autumn event to Fall Downs, and in 1978 the organization added Freshman Follies as a special part of the program. The first Freshman Follies was an all-female event that included a tug-of-war and an obstacle course. 

In the 1980s, Freshman Follies became a permanent part of Fall Downs. Both male and female freshmen intramural teams participated in activities ranging from racquetball and swimming to obstacle courses and pie-eating contests. Teams were rewarded in a variety of ways: pizza and banana-split parties for the winning teams, or spirit awards for the teams with the best T-shirts and cheers. To enter the competition, students submitted applications and fees.

By the 1990s, Fall Downs had faded out of practice, leaving only Freshman Follies to carry on its tradition of class spirit. Gone, also, were the intramural contests with teams and application fees. While competitions and prizes were still part of the event, the games themselves were messier, with events involving mud, shaving cream, and greased watermelons. "Follies" combined these gooey elements with contests and games such as bowling, slip-and-slides, tug-of-war, and shaving cream hair-do contests (like the one pictured here).
Student Foundation also began giving each year's Follies a themeā€”a tradition that has continued. Jared Dauenhauer, the 2009-10 co-president of Student Foundation and a senior film and digital media major, explained how the foundation keeps track of their themes. "We have a huge quilt made from Follies T-shirts through the years," he said. Dauenhauer said his favorite T-shirt is from the 1999 Follies, "May the Follies Be With You." Other past themes include "Follapalooza," "Revenge of the Nerds," and "Bringing Summer Back."

Throughout the years, Minglewood Bowl, Fountain Mall, and Bear Park have all hosted Freshman Follies; its placement on campus changes almost as much as its list of activities. "We usually have a combination of a slip-and-slide and a pool full of some sort of grime," Dauenhauer said of recent Follies, which also have included relays and food fights. The mud and shaving cream of the 1990s proceedings seem tame compared to the recent additions of ketchup, mustard, eggs, and chocolate syrup. At the end of the event, foundation members set up stations with hoses to wash off freshmen before they return to their residence halls. Dance competitions, lip-syncing contests, and even raffle tickets have accompanied past Follies, with gift certificates to restaurants and grocery stores as prizes.

Freshman Follies has adapted to different times, changing from a freshman intramural competition in Fall Downs to an annual event composed of themed food fights and messy games. But  Student Foundation has always kept intact Freshman Follies' original intent to introduce the foundation to new students and to allow freshmen to bond as a class.

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