Hold the haggis!


Traditions_McMurt_CrestAS THE 13th DAY OF THE MONTH APPROACHES, most Rice residential colleges get ready for battle. Not McMurtry. Instead of pitching water balloons at students dressed in their finest shaving cream ensembles, the Murts bake cookies to hand out to marauding members of Baker 13.

“We offer this sign of peace,” said junior Kelsi Wicker, “and McMurtry goes unattacked by the runners.” Senior Madhuri Venkateswar, the college’s incoming president, said, “Murts love it because it represents who we are as a college.”

Founded in 2009, McMurtry has relatively new traditions. A few years ago, Murts began to don banana suits at Beer Bike to cheer on their team. “McMurtry is In-Tents” has been adopted as “an anti-cheer” that originated when the college was still being built and its commons area was a collection of tents.

But the high-water mark of McMurtry traditions is surely McScottish Night. Launched in 2014 by Alana Lemay-Gibson and Brian Gibson, head resident fellows, the October festival pays homage to founders Burt ’56 and Deedee McMurtry’s ’56 Scottish ancestry. The event features unique Highland games (St. Andrews beer golf and throwing the Braemer Stone), Scottish food and drink (alas, no haggis allowed) and, of course, bagpipe music. There’s also a kilt-making workshop.

In a specially prepared fire pit, an effigy called a Wicker Man is burned. Murts attach sticky notes with wishes that presumably come true when put to the torch. Later, food trucks show up to provide sustenance as the party goes on through the night. — FRANZ BROTZEN ’80