Hell Is Where the Heart Is

Hell Week is my favorite tradition but my least favorite to explain. As a tour guide, it can be a tricky line to walk. It’s difficult to convey to non-Bryn Mawr folk that this crazy, insane, boisterous week of nonsense isn’t as frightening as the name might suggest — it’s both fun (!) and meaningful. Most students cite their first Hell Week as one of the greatest moments of their undergraduate career. It certainly has its charms, debauchery aside.

Radnor's welcoming banner

Hell Week commences on a Wednesday at sundown. Each dorm has their own specific means of doing things, but a Radnor tradition is the debutante ball. During the festivities, our frosh “come out” to Radnor high society, complete with being escorted down the grand staircase by a member of their sister class. They then receive their dorm schedules filled with tasks to complete.

Radnor's dorm schedules

Upon descending the staircase, the juniors give each frosh a bottle of sparkling apple juice. As their sister class, it’s only the polite thing to do before chaos breaks out.

I spent an afternoon tying those pesky bows

As the week progresses, the campus erupts into a frenzy. People sing songs and dance in the dining halls, strange costumes are abound, and there’s a general air of excitement. As an upperclassmen, I get to sit back and watch it all unfold – while also planning dormwide events!

Frosh bringing me breakfast in bed. I rewarded them with candy.

But dressing up isn’t just for frosh. Dormwide events in the evenings are often themed and plenty of fun. For one event the juniors had to represent “vintage Bryn Mawr.” So lucky I had my 1959 class blazer on hand!

But even alums like to share the in the spirit. Some of my close friends who graduated last year sent flowers to the dorm’s frosh and we displayed them in the common room. They even were mindful to incorporate the passing down of their class color (light blue) and Bryn Mawr’s colors (yellow and white).

the view from my window

All in all, it was a pretty great week in hell. Welcome home, freshmen!


7 thoughts on “Hell Is Where the Heart Is

  1. Pingback: The Daily Linkage | HeyMullaney

    • A friend found it at an estate stale and snagged it for me. It’s one of my most prized possessions and not for sale– sorry to disappoint!

  2. Pingback: Bryn Mawr Bans ‘Wet Parties’ Following ‘Hell Week’ Shenanigans - Fashion News Cloud

  3. I used to be an HA in Radnor and lived there my entire time at BMC. That used to be the view from my room… 🙂 It was from that window that I saw my frosh driving the stolen Conference and Events golf cart right down Merion green in the middle of the night. I have never gotten out of my room and down the stairs faster because I caught up with them right at the Moon bench and marched them back, the golf cart key in my hand. Ah, Radnor, the stories you have in your past…

    • Hi Virginia,
      The only interior label says “Blazers by Brooks-Allen Company, Rochester, NY.” I have a sinking suspicion this company is likely no longer in existence, but maybe shop around online? It’s a really nice vintage cut with green satin lining. Hope this helps!

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