Most of the enduring traditions at Riverside dated
from the establishment of the College of Letters and Science in
1954, when the campus theme and mascot were chosen, work on the
Big C was begun, and the charter students wrote their names in a
Big C was built on Box Springs Mountain in
1957, approximately 1,500 feet above the campus, and was the world's
largest poured-cement block letter, measuring 132 by 70 feet. It
was constructed primarily by students with materials and some labor
donated by Berkeley alumnus E. L. Yeager. Each freshman class had
the responsibility for painting the letter and keeping it clean
throughout the year. One of the traditions of the Big C was its
constantly changing character. During student elections it took
the shape of one of the candidates' initials, and during exams it
sometimes became a C minus or D.
After undergraduates arrived at Riverside
in February, 1954, a contest was held to determine the campus theme.
On the day of the final selection, a strong write-in campaign for
the theme "Hylander" developed; when this was changed to "Highlander,"
it won the contest. The idea had evolved from UCR's geographic location
on the highlands overlooking the city of Riverside. The Scottish
motif was a natural development from this theme. Thus, the athletic
teams were known as Highlanders; Tartan was the title of
the yearbook and the student newspaper was called The Highlander.
A group called the Highland Lassies was organized in 1955. It performed
authentic dances at athletic games and other campus programs.
The signatures of the first 127 charter students
at Riverside were preserved in cement in a walk adjoining the Physical
Education Building; they were inscribed in the spring of 1954. Subsequently,
students developed the habit of dragging their feet when using this
walk. When the student union was complete, the signatures were relocated
in its patio.
Combining the bear totem of the University
and the Scottish theme of the campus, a bagpiping bear in kilts
and tam-o-shanter was chosen as totem at Riverside. In addition,
the campus had a live mascot between 1955 and 1960, a pedigreed
Scottish terrier, Lady McTavish of Walpole, who made frequent appearances
on campus and who was featured in the 1956 yearbook. Buttons, as
she was called by the students, retired from her active role as
mascot in 1960, and died two years later. A plaque in her memory,
donated by the UCR Alumni Association in 1963, is located in the
Scots-On-The-Rocks Weekend was an annual
event began in 1957, that takes place in April or early May. It
featured athletic contests, a carnival, a queen contest, a dance
and a frosh-soph tug-o-war followed by a mud fight. The traditional
Scottish event of tossing the caber was one of the major attractions,
and beard-growing contests were also held.