Since Indiana University was founded in 1820, certain events, people, and places have become mainstays of campus life in Bloomington. The best way to learn about our traditions, of course, is to experience them for yourself.
Cream and crimson, often represented as white and red. The official IU Crimson is Pantone® 201.
We don’t have a school mascot, but we’re known as the Hoosiers—a nickname for natives or residents of Indiana. Read more about this unique term in “What’s a Hoosier?”, an article from the Indiana Alumni Magazine.
The Little 500 men’s and women’s bicycle races raise money for IU student scholarships and are the centerpiece of what has been called “The World’s Greatest College Weekend.” Held each April, the Little 500 was featured in the Academy Award–winning film Breaking Away and has drawn celebrity spectators such as John Mellencamp, Barack Obama, and Lance Armstrong, who called the Little 500 “the coolest event I ever attended.”
Go Big Red! Hoosier fans always have a lot to cheer about, including 24 national championship teams, more than 132 individual NCAA titles, and a reputation as one of the top college sports towns in the nation.
Indiana University has more than 600 student-athletes across 24 varsity sports. Our students support these teams in active student sections like The Quarry at home football games and The Crimson Guard, the largest basketball student section in the country. A Hoosier student-athlete has competed at every Olympic Games since 1932. At Indiana, our motto is "24 Sports, One Team."
From prestigious faculty and alumni to world-class facilities such as the Musical Arts Center, the Jacobs School of Music has a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s best music schools. The school offers more than 1,100 performances a year, most of which are free to attend, encouraging students to gain an appreciation of everything from ballet to jazz.
Each November, hundreds of IU students dance for 36 hours straight to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Since its inception in 1991, IU Dance Marathon has generated more than $7 million for the hospital.
IU was one of the first universities in the nation—if not the first—to establish this annual celebration, which brings droves of alumni back to Bloomington each fall. Homecoming events include a parade, the "Yell Like Hell" student spirit competition, and a football game against one of IU's Big Ten foes.
Herman B Wells
IU’s beloved former president and chancellor, Herman B Wells elevated the university’s stature in research, the arts, and international studies, transforming IU from a regional university to an international research institution. Wells (1902–2000) promoted academic freedom, advocated for preserving trees and green space on campus, and was instrumental in desegregating IU.
Wells’ passion for scholarship and for IU carries on in our students, faculty and staff, and alumni and fans worldwide. Today, a sculpture of Wells greets visitors to the heart of campus and is a popular photo spot. Note: There is no period after the "B" in Herman B Wells.
IU zoology professor Alfred Kinsey was an expert on gall wasps before developing an interest in another field: sexual behavior. Kinsey and his staff collected more than 18,000 sexual case histories over the years, and their books—Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953)—ignited a firestorm of controversy, prompting then–IU President Herman B Wells to defend the research’s academic value.
Alfred Kinsey was the subject of the 2004 film Kinsey, and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction carries on his groundbreaking work.
Before he became a great composer and songwriter, Bloomington native Hoagy Carmichael honed his musical talents—and earned a law degree—at IU. Next to the IU Auditorium, you can share a piano bench with a likeness of Carmichael, famous for writing songs like “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind.”
Senior Tree Dedication
Each graduating class donates a tree to IU in honor of the friendships and contributions its students have made here, and to ensure the continued beauty of our campus. Now coordinated by the Student Alumni Association, the tradition began with the Class of 1873, skipped a few classes in the 1950s and ’60s, and has been going strong again since 1966. Dedicated trees are identified by a plaque.
Rose Well House
The Rose Well House is an open-air pavilion in the oldest part of campus, the Old Crescent. According to tradition, a female student is not officially a co-ed until she has been kissed beneath its dome at midnight.
Celebrations and Demonstrations in Dunn Meadow
An open lawn next to the Indiana Memorial Union, Dunn Meadow has been the scene of many vigils, concerts, festivals, rallies, and protests—against the Vietnam War, for example. When the weather’s nice, you’ll find students reading, napping, or playing Frisbee here.
Kicking Back on Kirkwood
Bloomington’s Kirkwood Avenue leads right to IU’s symbolic front door, the Sample Gates. Kirkwood is a popular hangout for students and faculty alike, thanks to its many restaurants and shops.
Painting the Jordan Avenue Bridges
Student organizations regularly apply new coats of paint to these small bridges to promote events.
Formed in 1896 as a 22-piece ensemble and IU’s first band, the Marching Hundred is one of the nation’s best college bands and won the 2007 Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy. The Marching Hundred got its name from Associated Press reporters while touring the East Coast in the late 1920s, but today the band has about 250 members, more than 90 percent of whom are non-music majors.
IU’s official flower, the trailing arbutus (also known as the mayflower) has a prominent role in IU history, inspiring the name of our yearbook, the design of the President’s Medal for Excellence, and other IU imagery. The trailing arbutus is rarely found in southern Indiana, although the Moore’s Creek site of the IU Research and Teaching Preserve is home to several of the plants.