Every year after the homecoming dance, students from Weber State University flock with their dates to the Bell Tower Plaza in order earn the official status of “True Wildcat” at the stroke of midnight.
In this event, couples take turns kissing under the tower for the duration of its twelve chimes in an effort to achieve the exclusive title and demonstrate school pride.
True Wildcat Night is a long-lasting tradition spanning decades of WSU student life. Revered as one of the most beloved as well as one of the most obscure events surrounding homecoming, those who do know about it deem it as a critical aspect of the overall college experience.
“It’s about supporting tradition,” WSU Ambassador Parker Shaw said. “It’s just fun to participate in traditions and it makes school memorable.”
This year, the event will take place on Oct. 12 following the conclusion of the homecoming dance at 11:30, giving students plenty of time to congregate outside of the Shepherd Union before the midnight bell rings.
According to Shaw, WSUSA representatives typically hand out chap-stick and certificates of completion to students who participate in the kissing challenge, adding to the event’s overall charm.
However, aside from those small rewards, it would seem as if the “True Wildcat” label alone offers relatively no immediate benefits to those who achieve it, yet that doesn’t stop countless couples from participating in the event every year.
“It’s a title and you can always rub that in people’s faces because a lot of people aren’t True Wildcats,” Shaw said.
Several colleges and universities throughout the state of Utah practice a kissing tradition similar to True Wildcat Night.
Whether it is Utah State University’s “True Aggies,” Utah Valley University’s “True Wolverine” or Southern Utah University’s “True T-Bird,” the public lip-locking in tribute to school pride has become a critical factor in unifying the student body of countless schools.
However, unlike those other institutions, the majority of the population at WSU remain relatively unaware of the existence of the tradition.
USU takes particular pride in its True Aggie Night tradition. The university describes True Aggie Night in recruitment efforts, new-student orientations and reminds students about it on social media. Students at WSU, however, have a much harder time finding information on the event; recruitment and new-student orientation typically don’t mention the tradition, at the very least.
“I think that the organizations do a lot to promote activities and a lot of times students don’t seek it out,” Shaw said. “Maybe that is because we are a commuter school, but I’ve found that the students who are involved usually know.”
Those who happen to be in on the secret of this unique night, however, typically find enjoyment in the tradition and build lasting relationships in the process.
“My friend last year took the girl who he took to the dance, and they became True Wildcats together, and they just got married so that was like their third or second date,” Shaw recalled.