By Michael Martinez
An age-old tradition is finally seeing a revival on Baylor campus and at Floyd Casey Stadium. Perched on the tops of numerous freshman heads are the infamous slime caps, a tradition that was once thought to be extinct—only five caps were sold in 1995.
The slime cap tradition began at Baylor in 1917 as a means of distinguishing freshmen from upperclassmen. Emblazoned with the freshman’s anticipated graduation year, the hats were only worn by men until the 1940’s, when freshmen women were included in the tradition. During the 1950’s, the caps were worn by freshmen from their first day on campus until Homecoming, a time when the new students presumably knew each other. By the 1970’s, the caps were only worn during Welcome Week.
With no slime caps in the late nineties, the university brought them back in 2002. Dr. Eileen Hulme ’82, vice president of Student Life from 1999-2005, made the decision to bring the slime caps back to their previous glory. “When [the freshmen of 2002] got their caps, they were actually a very traditional ball-cap design,” said Michael Riemer, Associate Director of Student Activities, Campus Programming. “In the fall of 2003 [for the class of 2007], we brought back the original beanie style cap, along with the graduating year on the front.”
No longer sold for profit, the caps are now distributed for free to freshmen during Line Camp and Welcome Week. Just as in years past, freshmen continue to personalize their caps with their name and hometown on the underside of the bill, which is turned up for others to see. The time for wearing the caps, however, has significantly lessened. No longer are freshmen required to wear them for weeks on end, for fear of upperclassmen hazing. In the past, a cap-less freshman was required to sing “That Good Old Baylor Line” if caught outside the residence halls without the proper head gear.
Austin Tiffany, a freshman and flag runner in the Baylor Line, wears his slime cap religiously to each home football game. “As much as I enjoy not wearing it every day until Homecoming, I like the fact it is a tradition that has been passed on for many years,” Tiffany said. “Students need to realize the roots that this tradition has, and they need to continue that tradition.”
The slime cap tradition may have changed a lot, but the future is still bright for the bold-colored beanie. “People in 2010 are really different than the students of 1920, but it’s these kinds of traditions that give us a common experience,” Riemer said. “It may seem insignificant, and you might say ‘Oh, its just a cap,’ but it’s a cumulative effect of all those traditions that really makes this university unique and distinctive. That feeling can’t be replicated in another place.”
Persons interested in obtaining their slime caps can visit the Campus Programs office in the Bill Daniel Student Union Building. The caps are free of charge and are currently available with the graduating year of 2014.