Devil Goat Day is UMW’s oldest tradition that still occurs today. Devil-Goat Day began in 1926 when Eileen Kramer Dodd joined the faculty and became the sponsor of the junior class. She and the junior class “decided to have a goat as [their] symbol.” One morning, all of the juniors and Dodd “appeared in the dining hall wearing white skirts and white sweatshirts decorated with a felt green goat.” This sparked the seniors to pick “a distinctive symbol, and they adopted a red devil as an emblem. So began the Devil-Goat rivalry.” Alternating classes were designated as either Devils or Goats, as events creating competition between Senior and Sophomores, and Juniors and Freshman occurred annually, which developed into Devil-Goat Day. However, in the 1990s students were becoming indifferent to the school’s traditions. In 1992, “sponsorship of the event was taken over by the freshman class officers, who tried to rejuvenate it” by adding music and more daring activities such as a climbing wall, a velcro wall, jousting and human bungees.
The freshman must have succeeded in rejuvenating Devil-Goat Day, because the event still occurs today in 2014, and is still planned by the freshman class officers on Class Council. The tradition of having freshman and juniors versus sophomores and seniors continues as well as having the odd numbered graduation classes as Devils and even numbered graduation classes as Goats. Currently, at freshman orientation, Dean Rucker always announces to the new class of students whether they are Devils or Goats. (Dean Rucker himself is a Devil.) Devil-Goat Day continues to take place on Ball Circle, and has had a great turn out within the last few years. One newer tradition that is a part of Devil-Goat Day is trying to collect the free Devil or Goat t-shirts handed out by Class Council every year. Students will line up sometimes an hour or more before in order to make sure they can get one out of the limited supply of t-shirts. This year, in 2014, the t-shirts were handed out by Lee Hall and the Devil t-shirt line extended down campus walk towards Trinkle Hall, while the Goat t-shirt line extended down past Virginia Hall.
President Hurley on Devil Goat Day, April 25, 2013
Elizabeth Henry, "President Hurley on Devil Goat Day," April 25, 2013, Personal Collection of Elizabeth Henry, University of Mary Washington.