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rites of spring


Song and service, marathon merriment, and mud volleyball—your student’s spring semester teems with annual student traditions. Many are organized by undergraduates themselves, including the 80 students of the Office of Student Involvement’s Campus Activities Board (CAB).

Below, a month-by-month guide to the University’s bucket-list rituals for every student.

A raucous electronic dance music concert booked and staged by CAB, Plex-a-Palooza converts the Flynn Recreation Complex into a glow-stick dance club. Past performers include Dillon Francis (2015), the Chainsmokers (2016), and Marshmello (2017). The concert, held early in February, sells 1,800 tickets at about $30 each. (How popular is it? This year’s Plex-a-Palooza tickets sold out in six minutes.) View time-lapse video of CAB staging Plex-a-Palooza 2016. 

Student performing at Sing It to the Heights

Sing It to the Heights
An American Idol-style student competition, Sing It to the Heights, sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement (OSI), regularly fills the 567-seat Robsham Theater. Ten student crooners compete before a panel of Jesuit judges, but the audience picks the winner. Tickets are $10, and proceeds go to music programs at the nearby St. Columbkille Partnership School.
View video of Wynnm Murphy ’18 singing “Baby One More Time.”


Appalachia Volunteers Program
The University’s largest service organization, Campus Ministry’s “Appa” program is made up of 500 students who spend their spring break helping with community service projects—such as Habitat for Humanity and sustainable farming efforts—in 40 underserved cities and towns in the Appalachian region. View video on the program or visit the Appalachia website.


Irish Step team performing at ALC Showdown 2017

ALC Showdown
The fiercest, rowdiest, and biggest dance competition at the University, the AHANA Leadership Council’s annual Showdown regularly sells out Conte Forum. From the Bollywood fusion troupe Masti to the Irish Step Team to the Latin team Fuego del Corazón to hip-hop groups Phaymus and Synergy, more than 20 student troupes spend the entire academic year choreographing and rehearsing their Showdown routines. A panel of professional choreographers and dancers judge the competition, and award the winner a three-tiered golden trophy, a $500 donation to a charity of their choice, and a year of bragging rights. View video of Synergy’s 2016 routine.

BC students cheer on runners at Mile 21 of the Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon: Mile 21
The 121-year-old Boston institution is more than festive on its own merits. But because it takes place on Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, students have the day off from classes. So hundreds line both sides of Commonwealth Avenue to form a cheering tunnel as more than 30,000 runners trot past Heartbreak Hill and toward the finish line in Copley Square. Meanwhile, undergraduates run reach year to raise funds for charities, including Boston College’s Campus School, which serves children with severe and multiple disabilities. And CAB plans to add to the party this year, hosting a lawn-game tournament and a barbecue at the Lower Campus entrance from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. This year: April 17. View video of Rachel Rudder ’14 running past Mile 21


Students making a chalk drawing during Arts Fest

Arts Festival
For three days and nights at the end of April, Middle Campus morphs into an exhibition and performance jamboree organized by the Arts Council. Tents fill O’Neill Plaza and Stokes Lawn, where students host more than 30 events, including theater productions; orchestra, jazz band, and a cappella concerts; studio art exhibitions; dance; a fashion show; and spoken-word poetry. This year’s festival features a Q&A with 2017 Alumni Arts Award recipient Tracey Wigfield ’05, writer for 30 Rock and The Mindy Project and creator of the new sitcom Great News. This year: April 27–29. Visit the Arts Festival website.   

To celebrate the last day of classes each year, the Office of Student Involvement hosts an outdoor concert in the mod parking lot on Lower Campus, free to all students. Past performers include Macklemore, Sugar Ray, T-Pain, and Ludacris. This year’s lineup will also add swings, bocce, and cornhole to create what OSI Assistant Director Paul Murphy calls a “lounge atmosphere.”

Students participate in mudstock vollyball in the Mods parking lot

And if you happen to be on campus that day, don’t be alarmed if you see students walking to class caked in dirt. They are juniors and seniors who’ve signed up for Mudstock, a daylong, round-robin mud volleyball tournament featuring 20 teams of 10.


Commencement Prequel
Before the address, diploma ceremonies, and pomp and circumstance unfold in Alumni Stadium, Boston College seniors stay up all night on their final night as undergraduates. While this is not an organized event, it’s become an annual tradition. At daybreak, students gather atop the Beacon Street parking garage to watch the sun rise over Shea Field and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. And that leaves just enough time for them to take catnaps and put on caps and gowns before the complimentary breakfast and the procession from Linden Lane to the stadium—a ritual that recalls the First Flight procession they marched as freshmen.
This year: May 22.

Follow the Campus Activities Board on Facebook to find out more about these events and more.

By Zachary Jason