Caltech’s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to Campus

Caltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to CampusCaltech\'s Ditch Day Brought Zany Fun to Campus

By BRANDON VILLALOVOS

3:40 pm | May 27, 2016


Caltech’s annual Ditch Day brought zany games and unusual activities to the school’s underclassmen in a decades-old tradition that is the final send off from the senior class.

Described as a cross between “Animal House” and a science fair, Ditch Day’s actual date is always kept secret until the last minute and was revealed Friday morning to unsuspecting students via social media. Seniors deserted the campus and left an array of elaborate puzzles, mazes, quests, and other goodies all over for underclassmen to devote their entire day to solving.

“It’s a very strange tradition. The whole experience is kind of ridiculous and I mean that in the best way possible,” said Brynan Qiu, a 2015 Caltech graduate who is facilitating a Zelda inspired game.

Who said science can’t be fun? Ditch Day is quite the spectacle that is inspired by imagination and fueled by fun. All of the classes are cancelled and it is considered an institute holiday that conveniently kicks off a well deserved four day weekend for the students this year.

From rappelling down one of the campus’s tallest buildings, to solving a lifesize Rubik’s Cube, to stuffing students in life-size hamster balls to race — there were plenty of challenges. Not to mention interactive puzzles that did not resemble the kind you have on your coffee table.

“I’m responsible for jumping in this big inflatable ball and chasing people around while they try and find clues,” said Caltech student Chris Hallacy.

Ditch Day has taken on a new angle since its inception in the early 1930’s and in recent years it has transitioned into being inspired by themes of the digital age.

According to Caltech’s media department, the original Ditch Day “stacks”— a Caltech euphemism for “locks”— were devices installed, or measures taken, by seniors to keep underclassmen out of their rooms when they were off campus for the day.

The premise of stacking elaborate puzzles was to keep underclassmen from entering their rooms and back then, “stacking” took on a literal definition when students actually stacked furniture and other items from floor to ceiling in a standard prank fashion.

The idea of “stacking” has since morphed into what is now campus wide activities that extend beyond the dorm room and are typically inspired by books, video games, TV shows, or movies with several small teams teams competing against each other.

“Teams do get competitive but everyone ends up hanging out and having a good laugh. We take it seriously, but not too seriously,” said Qiu.

It’s safe to say that this is one time of the year that these future scientists and engineers really let loose and fun with their peers and this year’s Ditch Day started out with a classic twist.

“They duct-taped a student to the tree this morning. It’s all in fun and games at the end of the day,” said Caltech Senior Media Relations Manager Deborah Williams-Hedges.

This age old tradition that is signature to Caltech’s college life ultimately gives the seniors their last “hoorah” and create memories for the underclassmen.

“The stacks get more creative and more fun every year. It’s a good send off from the graduating class,” said Hallacy.