The Violent and Longlasting Rivalry Between Casual and Formal Spirit Friday

Hannibal The Elephant

It is a well known fact on campus that the decades-long feud within the Dickinson Classics department between the tradition of Casual Spirit Friday and Formal Spirit Friday is a hot topic for our founders and current students. The tradition decrees that students show their school spirit with Dickinson-branded clothing. Although many people don’t know the origin of this feud of casual vs formal, new archival evidence shows that it goes back to the root of our college’s founding. 

In the homo-etroctic letters between Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson, we can see a clear divide forming with the creation of Casual Spirit and Formal Spirit Friday. One quote from Dr. Rush said “ Come on babe, it is so unfair that you won’t let me wear my jeans and Dickinson graphic-tee on Fridays; it’s by far the superior tradition” (Letter 134, 1789). This quote slightly indicates that while Benjamin Rush and John Dickinson were good friends and well-known “roommates,” they did in fact disagree on a major part of the running of the college. 

It seemed to have gotten worse at the end of John Dickinson’s Presidency of Pennsylvania when he visited campus and saw all of his students out of their uniform and wearing shorts and graphic tees. He yelled at Dr. Rush: “Honey Cakes! You have gone behind my back and started this ‘Causal Spirit Friday’ when I had Dickinson powdered wigs made to help with Formal Spirit Friday.” This was said by professor on campus Thomas Cooper, a natural philosophy professor on campus known for his tests using cocaine on the Dickinson squirrels. This rivalry between the lovers continued until their deaths, but this mark was ever-present among Dickinson College students and professors. 

In a 1806 diary entry from not-well-known alumni James Buchanan, this rivalry led to “duels  that were held every Friday between the pair over who was right, and gladiatorial competitions held by the Classics Department.” This was truly a dark time for Dickinson, as they kept losing student volunteers to the rivalry. The enormous loss of life left James Buchanan as the only choice for Valedictorian out of his three person class. 

By the time of our current president John Eloviese Jones the Tertium, the rivalry started to die down, as “everyone who was passionate about it started to make secret societies on campus for each side of the argument.” One is Eta Sigma Phi, the Classical Department’s Language Honors Society, which is really a front for Dr. Scott “Scottie” Farrington’s master plan to have Casual Spirit Friday reign supreme. On the other hand, the Latin Reading Society, run by Marc “Marcy-Marc” Mastrangelo and Christopher “Hat Man” Francese , devises schemes for Formal Spirit Friday to excel. These societies are actually gladiatorial and hoplite training societies, training our selective band of Classics majors to fight for their respective Spirit Friday. 

While there are not as many student deaths today over the Spirit Friday debate, there is still a big divide within the Classics Department of Dickinson College, which forces new majors to compete in gladiatorial and phalanx combat under their advisor to determine what type of Spirit Friday it will be that Friday. Nora “Nikolaus” Stocovaz ‘25 said “With Scottie as my advisor I had to fight five times to keep our Friday a Casual Spirit Friday. How could I forget September 12, when we had to fight in phalanx combat to keep the rest of the semester Casual Spirit Friday?” Unlucky for those who lost, they were expelled from the college and banned from Cumberland County.