Amy George holds the crook near this year’s hiding place, the anagama kiln. Courtesy of Amy George.
Every Founders’ week, University students set out on a clue-filled hunt for a wooden walking stick, or Crook. Finding the Crook became a University tradition back in 1926 and has been a custom every year since.
The Crook is a large wooden branch covered in the names of those who have found it in years past. There have been several Crooks over the years. The original is encased in glass and displayed in the alumni affairs office of Reynolds Hall.
This year, the first clue on the crook’s location was “a gift from the east will hold the answer you seek.” Shortly after it was broadcast, senior art major Amy George discovered the crook in the anagama Kiln near the Student Retreat Center.
She said her time working on the kiln with ceramics professor Scott Myer was the kindling for her hunch.
“During the firing, we learned about the history of the kiln, how he built it, how to feed it and what it meant to have it here on our campus,” she said “To me, it’s the only possible thing that ‘a gift from the East’ could have applied to.”
Her excitement couldn’t be contained. “I actually yelled, ‘I know where it is!’ and ran out of the building I was in,” said George.
In the past, senior women would hide the Crook for the junior girls to find during a week in late October.
According to the University Archives, Crook Week was known widely as a hazing week. In 1964, psychology professor and co-founder of the tradition Dr. Katherine Vickery described Crook Week as a time when “juniors reached the point in their college career when it seemed fitting to assume the weighty role of seniors.”
If the Crook was not found during this week, a shaving cream filled water balloon fight took place against junior and senior women in Main Quad.
George said she feels a connection with the Crook’s former senior meaning. “Finding it feels almost like a good luck charm for the rest of my time here,” said George.
Today, the tradition has changed. The Crook is hidden during Founders’ Week not by seniors but by the chair and vice chair of the Founders’ Day Committee, Marion Brown and Tiffany Bunt.
“I am honored to serve as
the official ‘hider’ of the Crook,” Brown said.
She explained the Crook is hidden on campus where it is accessible so all students who wish to participate can find it. Daily clues of the Crook’s location are given through Broadcast email.
If the Crook is found by a student during the week, they are honored at the Founders’ Day assembly with an award. The student is allowed to carve their name in the Crook and be a part of one of the oldest traditions at the University.
“Complexity [of clues] depends on location, and we want you to learn about the university’s history along the way,” Brown said.
Despite finding it early, George treasures the opportunity. “I have my name carved into a piece of this University’s shared history forever, and it’s hard not to be excited and grateful for that honor,” she said