STORY BY LAURA VOLLMER
Located between Old Main and University Ave., a stone slab lies with faded lettering. The Kissing Rock holds a deep tradition among many students and alumni throughout several decades.
This past month, the Student Alumni Association (SAA) hosted the “Kiss and Tell: A Kissing Rock Event” that unified students to revel in Drake tradition, relationships and love with free food, prizes and competition.
Many Drake students participated in the event, learning about the enduring legacy left behind.
Based on legend and Drake’s records, George Carpenter, Drake’s first chancellor, is said to have climbed to the top of an old elm tree.
“Here we will build our university,” Carpenter said.
Known as the Chancellor’s Elm, the tree was cut down in 1969 after it contracted Dutch Elm disease. The rock was placed under the Chancellor’s Elm by the graduating class of 1898 with an engraving that honored Carpenter.
Scattered throughout the Drake archives, the Kissing Rock has served as relationship luck to many.
“The initial folklore surrounding this rock was that no freshman girl could consider herself a coed or college woman until a college man kissed her at the rock under the tree,” said sophomore Ben Weinberg, SAA’s vice president of traditions. “Soon, kissing at the rock became popular to do at Drake and couples began to do so.”
The SAA event consisted of various activities ranging from a lip-lock race to a competitive race. The Kissing Rock event had food, a photo booth and a “No Kiss Booth.”
“Our favorite part of the event is the Kissing Rock games where couples were invited to play against each other in kissing themed games including ‘Snack n’ Smooch,’ a game where couples met with a kiss after eating either end of Fruit by the Foot, ‘Lip Locked,’ a game where couples had to race each other to a tree and back without separating their lips and ‘Hips to Lips,’ a game where couples had to get a volleyball from their hips to their lips by only using their bodies,” Weinberg said.
Many couples competed in the challenging activities throughout the night. The winners of the event were first-year Miranda Olson and sophomore Ross McKenzie.
“Several SAA members told us what the events were so we strategized for those. And the final round was a question round so Ross and I practiced before by asking each other what’s your favorite color, food, animal.” Olson said.
The end-of-event prizes were a $70 Cheesecake factory gift card and a $50 movie theater gift card.
McKenzie believes traditions are an easy and important way to be involved in school, while still having fun.
“The Kissing Rock is an important tradition at Drake, and it is one that is incredibly accessible to any student who wants to carry it on,” McKenzie said. “These traditions are what make Drake different, they are what make us unique. That is why students should continue participating in these traditions, to continue to make it different.”