the UC History Digital Archives

the UC History Digital Archives

Search the Riverside collection
Home > General History > The Ten Campuses > Riverside >


About UC Riverside
:: Historical Overview
:: Administrative Officers

Academic Units
:: Colleges and Schools
:: Academic Departments
:: Graduate Division
:: Institutes and Research Centers
:: Summer Sessions

Student Life
:: Student Housing
:: Student Government
:: Student Publications
:: Student Services
:: Traditions

Libraries and the Arts
:: Cultural Programs
:: Libraries

Additional Resources
:: Related Links
:: Bibliography

:: Sources

print-friendly format

Riverside: Traditions

Most of the enduring traditions at Riverside dated from the establishment of the College of Letters and Science in 1954, when the campus theme and mascot were chosen, work on the Big C was begun, and the charter students wrote their names in a concrete walk.

Big C
Campus Theme
Charter Students
Scots-on-the-Rocks Weekend

Big C
Big C was built on Box Springs Mountain in 1957, approximately 1,500 feet above the campus, and was the world's largest poured-cement block letter, measuring 132 by 70 feet. It was constructed primarily by students with materials and some labor donated by Berkeley alumnus E. L. Yeager. Each freshman class had the responsibility for painting the letter and keeping it clean throughout the year. One of the traditions of the Big C was its constantly changing character. During student elections it took the shape of one of the candidates' initials, and during exams it sometimes became a C minus or D.

Campus Theme
After undergraduates arrived at Riverside in February, 1954, a contest was held to determine the campus theme. On the day of the final selection, a strong write-in campaign for the theme "Hylander" developed; when this was changed to "Highlander," it won the contest. The idea had evolved from UCR's geographic location on the highlands overlooking the city of Riverside. The Scottish motif was a natural development from this theme. Thus, the athletic teams were known as Highlanders; Tartan was the title of the yearbook and the student newspaper was called The Highlander. A group called the Highland Lassies was organized in 1955. It performed authentic dances at athletic games and other campus programs.

Charter Students
The signatures of the first 127 charter students at Riverside were preserved in cement in a walk adjoining the Physical Education Building; they were inscribed in the spring of 1954. Subsequently, students developed the habit of dragging their feet when using this walk. When the student union was complete, the signatures were relocated in its patio.

to top

Combining the bear totem of the University and the Scottish theme of the campus, a bagpiping bear in kilts and tam-o-shanter was chosen as totem at Riverside. In addition, the campus had a live mascot between 1955 and 1960, a pedigreed Scottish terrier, Lady McTavish of Walpole, who made frequent appearances on campus and who was featured in the 1956 yearbook. Buttons, as she was called by the students, retired from her active role as mascot in 1960, and died two years later. A plaque in her memory, donated by the UCR Alumni Association in 1963, is located in the ASUCR offices.

Scots-On-The-Rocks Weekend
Scots-On-The-Rocks Weekend was an annual event began in 1957, that takes place in April or early May. It featured athletic contests, a carnival, a queen contest, a dance and a frosh-soph tug-o-war followed by a mud fight. The traditional Scottish event of tossing the caber was one of the major attractions, and beard-growing contests were also held.


to top

the UC History Digital Archives

Copyright © 1999-2005
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Last updated 06/18/04.