From the Collegian archives: Cane Rush

It recently came to my attention that Kenyon used to host a annual duel of sorts between the sophomore and freshman classes. Known as “the Cane Rush” this event would occur within the first few weeks of school and involved the freshman and sophomores battling over, you guessed it, a cane. Each class would take up sides on Ransom Lawn, with a cane placed between them, and at a signal would rush towards the cane and battle for it. After a set amount of time the battle would be halted and the class with the most hands on the cane would be declared the winner. Apparently if the freshmen won, their restricted status as freshmen would be relaxed (think freshmen beanies) and if the sophomores won they would be forced to remain in their subordinate state. The last Cane Rush was held in 1966, but I for one think it is high time it be brought back.

Reprinted below is an article from the September 27, 1913 edition of the Collegian, detailing the Cane Rush that year. Special thanks to the Greenslade Special Collections for providing access to this article and the photo.

FRESHMAN WINNERS BY A CLOSE MARGIN

In hotly contested Canerush–Sophs put up hard fight but fail by score of thirteen to nine

Fighting vainly against a class twice their size in numbers and outweighed heavily, the sophomores achieved the unusual result of losing the annual cane rush, held Saturday afternoon, September 19, by the small score of thirteen to nine. As a general rule the freshmen completely overwhelm their older opponents since, in thirteen years, only the classes of ’03 and ’09 have, as sophomores, been able to win the rush.

The customary preliminary procedures were partially dispensed with this year, owing to the new faculty ruling on “cuts” from classes. Because of this, the freshmen were allowed to attend classes unmolested all of Saturday morning, a truce having been declared from seven o’clock on. Hence there was lacking around the campus the usual air of excitement that generally pervades before the rush.

The freshmen class had planted itself in a barn near Hazel Dell, Friday evening, and had confidently expected that the sophomores would not dare to venture into their camp, owing to the large numbers. The 1916 men, however, allowed this to feaze (sic.) them not one bit and, with plenty of spirit and energy, finally located the hiding place of the first year men and started to capture as many as possible. The usual trick of tying a rope around the waist of a man and sending him to grapple with a freshman and then drawing both out resulted in the capture of eleven freshmen, most of them being the large and strong men of the class. One sophomore was captured and he was exchanged for four freshmen. The other seven were declared out of the rush.

Promptly at noon, the freshmen lined up in front of Bexley and the cane was delivered to their captain, Shepard, by President Peirce who made a few supplemental remarks concerning the history of the cane rush and that of the cane itself. The usual procession was formed and all marched down to the open space between the Library and Ascension Hall, where the sophomores, under the leadership of their captain, L.V. Axtell, Jr., had spread themselves out and were anxiously waiting for the fray.

The freshmen marshaled themselves in full array and it looked like a walkway for them. From the blowing of the whistle it was evident that the sophomores were in the fight for all they were worth. Their methods, as well as those of the freshmen, were thoroughly sportsmanlike, no slugging nor any unnecessary roughness being indulged in. Not a man was injured, save for the usual scratches and bruises.

At the conclusion of the eight minutes allowed for the rush, Cane Rush Judge William J. Bland, ’10, started on the count. For some time, the result was “in the air,” indications being that the score would be nearly even. When the bottom of the pile was reached, however, and two freshmen were found clinging desperately to the cane, it was announced that the new men had won by a score of 13 to 9.

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