Every school has some tradition people take part in to feel a little more connected to alumni, fellow students and faculty. Northwest just takes it a step further by jumping into a pond that is not technically for swimming.
Colden Pond has been a part of the Northwest campus since the early 1930s. Jumping into the pond has been a right of passage for many students to make their claim as a Bearcat. Students on campus reported they had heard about alumni jumping as far back as 50 years ago.
Jumping into Colden is a methodical process. First, students strip down to their undergarments and jump into Colden. They must then swim out, touch the fountain, swim back and try to gracefully climb out. While doing all of this, students’ hearts are pounding and they are hoping no cops catch them.
Police Chief Clarence Green said some students have been caught during their jumps into Colden.
“The circumstances would dictate the action: ensure the individual is safe, ask them to leave, summons for student judicial, inform Human Resources if employee (faculty/staff) and/or arrest for trespassing,” Green said.
The tradition is illegal and can place students at risk. The university police do not support this tradition simply because it places students in harm's way.
“We want students, employees and guests to be safe. The pond has a mixture of various types of debris in it and I am not supportive of people placing themselves in harm’s way within the pond,” Green said.
Junior Mia Blackman is one of the many who have succeeded in the feat of jumping into Colden while not getting caught or being harmed.
“I jumped into Colden to become a Summer Bearcat. Since there aren't a lot of people who stay during the summer, the few that do stay all get together and jump,” Blackman said.
Students find this to be one of their favorite memories if they are not caught.
“It’s really fun when you do it, but you have to be so careful because you want to make sure you don’t get caught,” Blackman said.
However the fear of getting caught did not deter Blackman from jumping again.
“We did it so many times during the summer,” Blackman said. “After a night of being out, what better way to end a night than jumping into Colden pond and cooling off?”
Freshman Kaitlyn Burton heard her fellow classmates discussing their adventures her first night on campus.
“I was told, to be an official Bearcat, you had to jump into Colden, which at the time I thought was weird, but not so much anymore,” Burton said.
It is not something kept quiet on campus. People frequently talk about their weekend adventures while sitting at Grey’s Truck Stop Sunday mornings.
The stories involve laughter about quickly grabbing their clothes from under the trees and benches and sprinting away to hide because someone found it funny to yell “cop.”
Some students choose to view walking under the The Memorial Bell Tower to be their rite of passage to becoming a Bearcat. Senior Madison Foxx is one that does not find jumping into Colden to be the wisest decision.
“My big jumped in, cut her leg and got sick, so I shall never jump in. Plus it's gross #germphobe,” Foxx said.
Foxx is not the only one that has heard of the horror of jumping into Colden pond. Sophomore Danielle O’Neill jumped in during work weekend and her experience was less than pleasant.
“One, I broke my shoe. That wasn’t good. Secondly, when I woke up the next morning and looked at my clothes, I found a hook in my pants,” O’Neill said.
Laughing about her experience, she said it would not be her last time jumping into Colden and hopefully her next experience she will not find a hook or break a shoe.
This tradition on campus leads to many great stories and memories for countless Bearcats.
Senior Brooke Kirby did it this past summer and laughed at her memories as she recalled her night.
“It was during the time when everyone was playing Pokemon Go. We were all just swimming in the lake, chilling and hanging out with all these people out trying to catch Pokemon,” Kirby said.
Colden is famous for its Kissing Bridge that is rumored to be where romance blossoms, but maybe it wasn’t the Kissing Bridge. The experience of stripping and swimming illegally would be enough to make anyone fall in love.
Students should jump with friends to avoid any awkward encounters that might occur otherwise.
“I mean, I can’t say that I haven’t jumped into Colden with a boy that I liked before, but I wasn’t focusing on that. I was focusing on the fun of jumping into a pond that I wasn’t suppose to be in,” Blackman said.
Northwest has its traditional institutional experiences that make students Bearcats, such as walking under the Belltower as a freshman class or walking the stage for students to receive their diploma. Northwest also has its weird traditions such as stripping down and jumping into Colden for a late night swim.
Before students jump they need to remember that there are goal post, yearbooks, and various other debris at littering the bottom of Colden. Although this is the time for students to live their lives and be adventurous.
The Missourian does not condone jumping into Colden Pond, or breaking the law.