skip to Main Content

Traditions

The Mace

The Erskine Mace was designed in 1981 by W.H. Stuart, Jr., Chairman of the Erskine College Board of Trustees, and Dr. William Bruce Ezell, Jr., the college’s 11th president. The staff is composed of dark red mahogany, while the orb portion displays several decorative features.

The four engraved facets of the orb display the seal of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church; the seal of Erskine College; a likeness of Ebenezer Erskine, the founder of the Associate Presbytery (the “Secession” from the Church of Scotland took place on December 6, 1733); and a likeness of Ebenezer Erskine Pressly, the first president of Erskine (1839).

Four communion tokens, coin-shaped objects engraved with markings or a Bible verse, were presented by members of early Presbyterian congregations as evidence that the Session deemed the holder worthy of taking communion.

One token is marked with a two-headed fowl from the Scottish city of Perth where Ebenezer Erskine preached against the abuses of the Church of Scotland in 1732. This sermon led to the “Secession” of 1733 by Erskine and two other ministers.

The second token is marked “R.P.” for the Reformed Presbyterian Church. These Covenanters were persecuted for almost two centuries before they formed the Reformed Presbytery in 1743.

The third token is marked “D.W.” for the Due West ARP congregation. This token symbolized the long-standing relationship between the congregation and their college and seminary.

The fourth token is a lepton, the Greek word for the smallest Jewish coin from the reign of Herod Agrippa. This coin was the widow’s mite of Christ’s parables. As a symbol of selfless generosity and sacrifice, the lepton reminds us that Erskine exists today because of the sacrificial gifts of many ordinary individuals who had a vision for the future.

The Mace is crowned by a Celtic cross reminiscent of the many stone Celtic crosses that can still be seen in some parts of Scotland and Ireland today.

Academic and Clerical Regalia

Academic attire can be traced to the medieval period when it was necessary for scholars to wear gowns and hoods for warmth. From this practical necessity developed the tradition of academic regalia.

The style, cut, and shape of academic gowns were influenced by the members of various religious orders— hence the close affinity between academic regalia and the clothing worn by members of the clergy.

Baccalaureate gowns feature pointed sleeves that may be worn closed. Master’s gowns display a knee-length sleeve with a scalloped indentation (an exit slit for the arm can be located midway down the sleeve). Doctoral gowns feature bell-shaped sleeves with three velvet bars across the sleeves.

The hoods that accompany the three types of gowns also vary according to the degree. The colors of the bars on the gowns represent various academic disciplines (dark blue for philosophy, light blue for education, green for medicine, etc.). The school colors for each institution are displayed in the lining of the hood.

The academic cap is a black mortarboard symbolizing scholastic freedom, though some universities have adopted other cap designs.

The tassel is usually black, but a doctoral cap may have a gold tassel.

Though different religious denominations prefer different sorts of vestments for their clergy, Presbyterians have favored the academic Geneva gown.

The Geneva gown took on a specialized religious connotation of its own and is today associated with the clergy as well as the legal and academic professions.

A clerical stole consists of a strip of cloth about four inches wide, usually attached to the robe behind the neck and hanging over each shoulder. Its colors are often in keeping with those assigned for the liturgical season and various symbols of the faith or season may be embroidered on it.

Erskine Campus Traditions

Candlelight – This event occurs when a female student becomes engaged. The ladies all gather around the fountain in Bonner Circle with anticipation as to the identity of the newly engaged. A candle is passed and the engaged takes the candle as it goes by and blows it out to reveal the engagement.

Convocation/Chapel – Chapel provides an opportunity to bring outstanding speakers to the Erskine campus and provides an opportunity for the entire academic community to come together.

Homecoming – The entire Erskine Family gathers to reminisce about college days old and new. The weekend features the crowning of the Homecoming Court, a concert, tailgating at the games, and tons of other fun and opportunities to interact with current students as well as Alumni.

Signing of the Book – The freshman women meet in Bowie Arts Center to sign the Student Register, which dates back to the time of the Due West Women’s College.

Signing of the Cloth – All incoming freshmen attending New Student Orientation, sign the linen tablecloth which
becomes a symbol of that class and will be used at that particular class’s senior dinner.

Jesters, Secret Seven, Chalice, and the Horsemen – These four secret societies are the best-kept secrets at Erskine. Each society is made up of a select few and takes part in positive, school-spirited mischief. Societies will reveal their senior members at graduation. Keep your eyes peeled for strangers in the night or moving shadows, for you might stumble onto them.

Back To Top