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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 27, 2007

A Sesquicentennial look back

Romantic tradition

by Samantha Beres


Campaniling is a long-standing Iowa State tradition. Photo courtesy of University Archives, ISU Library.

"A girl isn't really an Iowa State coed until she has been kissed under the campanile just as the bells toll midnight," the society editor of the Daily wrote in a 1960 article. This, said another article, should be done "preferably as soon after her arrival as possible."

We don't use the word coed anymore, but the tradition of kissing under the campanile at midnight - or "campaniling" - continues at Iowa State. Now the kiss at midnight means you are a true Iowa Stater.

Some students today claim their favorite ISU tradition is mass campaniling - an activity during Veishea or Homecoming with a party-like atmosphere intended for large crowds. During the 1977 Homecoming, the ISU pep band joined a reported 500 students and Cy for the midnight carillon toll. The pep band played the ISU fight song as it marched toward the campanile at 11:30 p.m., its presence apparently a new twist on the whole thing.

Modern-day mass campanilings at Veishea are combined with fireworks on central campus and the numbers have grown - in 2006, Veishea co-chairs estimated between 500 and 1,000 participants. Co-chair Eric Peterson remembers seeing lots of couples rushing over to the campanile to make sure they were kissing at midnight.

This reporter asked a handful of alums from the 1970s and 1980s if they campaniled. Some remember being excited about it, but many didn't remember the persons accompanying them. One late 1980s campaniler, who requested anonymity, thought for all these years that she had gone campaniling with the man who became her husband. But he recently informed her that, in fact, he was not there.

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Sesqui series

Inside is running a yearlong series of photos and articles that look back at Iowa State traditions, people and places to celebrate the sesquicentennial.