One of the key elements of going to a school with stellar sports teams and tons of name recognition, is its traditions. Both official and unofficial, traditions are what make going to college feel more like a community than anything else.
Off the bat, you’ll want to kick off the school year by attending Weeks of Welcome. It’ll feature the annual glow party and events like Cat’s Back, where students can meet and greet with many student organizations on campus. It’s one of the best ways to get an idea of what you want to be involved with for the next few years, and an opportunity to get a free shirt, which you’ll be getting a ton of during the school year.
After you collect your shirts, which will mostly be red, you’ll want to store them aside for Cougar Red Fridays. As an official tradition, the University says “the color unites us, to live and to celebrate together, and behold our individual achievements as a singular legacy of pride.”
Be sure to hold on to all those red shirts for game days, which have their own wide array of traditions. You’ll pose for every photo and sing every game day song while throwing up the cougar paw, done by folding the ring finger of the right hand toward the palm and holding it with your thumb, while leaving the other three fingers up.
“The tradition dates back to 1953, when Shasta I, the presiding cougar mascot, lost a toe in a cage door on the way to a game,” the University said. “The opposing team, the University of Texas, mocked UH by imitating the cougar’s injury. The Cougars soon adopted that gesture as a symbol of pride.”
At the end of every game, you’ll throw up that paw and sing the alma mater along with the Spirit of Houston.
When it’s not a game day, you’ll probably have tests and quizzes you’ll be studying for all week. An unofficial tradition, some UH students rub the mascot Shasta’s paw for good luck. It’s located right outside Cullen Family Plaza, in front of the fountains.
Maybe while cramming for a test, you’ll get hungry and will be willing to eat anything even though it’s midnight. Grab some midnight Moody food from Moody Towers Dining Commons, since it’ll likely be the one of the only things open within walking distance during the late hours of your studying.
Later on in the year, you might get to experience a free live concert, variety show, carnival, performances and barbecue all on campus over the course of one weekend at Frontier Fiesta. While it was virtual in 2020, in 2019, the UH community got a free A$AP Ferg concert.
Lastly, it is crucial to get a picture with the president and chancellor of the UH system, Renu Khator. While she only makes appearances publicly from time to time, getting a picture with her will be a keepsake for you since she is so rare to see on campus. Be sure to throw up the cougar paw in the picture, and post it on social media.