Tomorrow, first-year dormitories across the University of Maine campus in Orono will open their doors to welcome the Class of 2018 in the college’s annual tradition known as the “Maine Hello.” While the current form of this event is more like a day of community service to support new students, the original version of the “Maine Hello” was rooted back in a time when hazing was not only expected, it was almost mandatory.
In the late 1940′s and 50′s the “Maine Hello” was something initiated by the administration, in this case President Hauck, which required first year students to wear blue beanies on their heads for the first few weeks of school. Whenever they passed by an upperclassmen the younger students were told to shout out a big “HELLO”.
The beanie tradition disappeared sometime after President Hauck left the school and was replaced with traditional paddling and forced streaking across the mall as a way of hazing the first year students. However, in the late 1980′s the administration, in an effort to be a more politically correct institute, revamped the “Maine Hello” into more of a community service day.
Today, the “Maine Hello” is the day first year students move onto campus, usually a day or two ahead of the upperclassmen. Facility and staff (including the University President) greet the students and their families at the curb of their respective dorms and help carry in all of the boxes to their assigned rooms.
Inevitably, there are some students, presumably liberal arts majors, who pack with their hearts and not their heads. It happens at least a few times every year outside of every dorm, some nervous father pulls up with a 22-foot long moving truck, his excited daughter in the passenger seat. The daughter can’t wait to see her room in one of the Hilltop dorms, she grabs the keys after registering, runs down the hall, and opens the door. There sits a small 8 foot by 12 foot room that she has to share with someone else. It’s at that point a “light bulb” turns on in this young child’s brain and she realizes a 22 foot truck might have been over-doing-it.
Regardless of your class, the “Maine Hello” is a unique tradition to Orono that everyone has a chance to experience. While living on your own for the first time is exciting, it is nice to know your final hours with your parents won’t be spent sweating like pigs as you lug futons and boxes of Ramen noodles up flights of stairs alone.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bright Lights Dark Room