What is Colgate Day?
For many, Friday the 13th is a date inexorably linked with superstition, bad luck, and cheesy slasher flicks. At Colgate, it’s cause for celebration — officially.
The university is asking students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends to embrace Colgate’s association with the number 13, and announce their affiliation by wearing school regalia and/or maroon on every Friday the 13th from now on.
Promotion of the tradition, called Colgate Day, is being spearheaded by the university’s Office of Alumni Relations. As many former undergrads know, the university’s connection to the number 13 dates back to its founding.
In 1817, 13 men — six clergy and seven laymen — met in the frontier settlement of Hamilton with “13 dollars, 13 prayers, and 13 articles.” During that meeting, the men founded the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, the cornerstone for what would become the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, then Madison University, and finally Colgate University.
But the relationship with the number doesn’t stop there.
There’s the university’s address, 13 Oak Drive. And Colgate’s zip code, 13346. The first two numbers, standing alone, are the number 13, and the sum of the remaining three totals 13. Even the university’s motto has a connection with 13. There are — no surprise here — 13 letters in “Deo ac Veritati,” a Latin phrase meaning “for God and for truth.”
So we say, “Wear thirteen proudly. Live it out: Learn new things, engage with new persons, climb new hills.”