As the opening bars of Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" loft through Lang Concert Hall, the whoops, clapping, and screams of Swarthmore students begin. Each Sunday night before the start of fall classes, students flock to the campus auditorium to watch the 1967 classic The Graduate, a popular tradition that serves as a last hurrah before classes and also as a way to christen the new school year.
Veteran Swatties know to yell and clap at certain points throughout the film, like whenever Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is asked about his "future" or when Mr. McGuire praises "plastics" as the wave of the future. For freshmen who come out to observe the Swarthmore tradition, The Graduate marks the end of Orientation Week and their first glimpse of Swarthmore upperclassmen.
Evelyn Strombom '12
Eva Amesse '11 said the movie and tradition was a pleasant surprise. "Before I came to Swarthmore, I thought I was weird for liking Simon & Garfunkel," she says, "so seeing everyone singing and clapping in the auditorium made me feel really good. It's just a movie, but it's cool that something so simple as a movie can turn into something that everyone can relate to and look forward to."
For Swatties, William Hopkins '11 thinks the annual tradition takes on different meaning each year. "By the time you are a senior it's become an institution. The first time you see it everything is fresh and new, and the next two years induct you into the traditions until you finally understand why The Graduate is such a big deal to seniors every year."