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Traditions at Simpson College

Celebrating the past and embracing the future

Campus Day

During the spring semester, classes are cancelled for one day to allow Simpson students and faculty to celebrate Campus Day. Founded in 1889, Campus Day is a long-standing tradition that encourages everyone to participate in community service projects both on and off campus.

Honors Convocation

The Simpson community unites to mark the beginning and end of each school year. Fall Convocation kicks off the school year with a formal celebration, and spring’s Honors Convocation salutes students who have excelled in the classroom, on the field and in the community.

Lessons and Carols

Complete with readings and hymns in a candle-lit Smith Chapel, Simpson’s traditional English Christmas celebration, Lessons and Carols, has been a Simpson custom since the 1970s. The Iowan Magazine named the service one of its favorite Iowa Christmas traditions.

Move-In Day

Many students and parents are happy to learn that once you pull up to campus to unload everything you’ll need for the upcoming year, Simpson’s sorority, fraternity, and residence life communities are ready to roll up their sleeves and help you with the move. Members of the Simpson community grab your boxes, couches and suitcases and take them to your room for you—saving you time and helping you officially start your exciting Simpson Experience!

Simpson Seal

Watch your step! Walking on the Simpson seal embedded in the sidewalk outside College Hall is considered bad luck. It’s believed those who step on the seal will fail their next test. Countless students sidestep, hop, and jump over the seal as they walk through campus—especially during finals week.

Walking Through the Gates

As the college kicks off the new year each fall, the freshman class walks through the red brick gates in front of College Hall to start their Simpson Experience. In late spring, the senior class ceremoniously marches through the same gates, symbolizing a full circle journey on graduation day.

Yell Like Hell

During Homecoming each year, students pack into Cowles Fieldhouse to show off their Simpson pride during the Yell Like Hell pep rally, where campus groups compete fiercely against each other for the best stomp/cheer routine.


On May 6th, 1935, Mildred Hedges, a 22-year-old freshman home economics major, fell to her death from the third floor of Old Chapel, which is now College Hall. Hedges, who was holding an armful of books, caught her heel on the stair and toppled over the railing, falling 35 feet. The memory of her tragic death lingers in the lore of Simpson College.

Carver Medal

The Carver Medal is given annually to an individual who has distinguished himself/herself through service. To someone who has, like Dr. Carver, used their gifts and imagination to serve as an inspiration to others, demonstrating leadership, conviction and dedicated themselves to addressing humanitarian issues. The medal, as well as the lecture series, pays tribute to Dr. Carver’s legacy at Simpson and the College’s commitment to diversity throughout its history.

The Alma Mater & Fight Song

Simpson Alma Mater

Lucien Waggener, a native Kentuckian and graduate of Princeton University, and the University of Gena in Germany and at the Sorbonne in Paris, joined the faculty in the 1890s. Waggener was probably the only man in Iowa to speak both German and French with a Kentucky accent. Demonstrating one of his many talents, he composed the words of the college’s Alma Mater, simply calling it the “Red and Gold,” and set the words to the music of the traditional “Eton Boating Song.”

Simpson Fight Song

Simpson’s Fight Song first appeared in the 1939 Simpson College Songs booklet, sponsored and issued by the Indianola Women’s Club with college approval. It was arranged by Mildred Severs, class of 1938.