National Orange Day celebrates SU's 144th birthday

As Syracuse University turns 144 on March 24, the campus is engaged in daylong activities ranging from signing a giant birthday card to eating cake.

To celebrate Syracuse University’s 144th birthday on March 24, a campus-wide party has taken Schine Student Center, Ernie Davis Hall, the Life Sciences Complex and Sadler Hall by storm. A very orange storm, that is.

Students participated in the day’s many activities by visiting one of the locations listed above and trying Otto’s Cupcake ice cream with birthday cake, which was invented by Eilish Mitchell ’12. Students also picked up some pins and stickers or signed one of the giant birthday cards. A photo where students and faculty formed the number 144 was shot on the quad at 8 p.m. Those in the picture were given glow sticks to illuminate the important number.

Photo: Yuki Mizuma
Tina Casella wears pins for National Orange Day in celebration of Syracuse University's 144th birthday.

Sam Edelstein ’07, the assistant director of regional programs and engagement for the Office of Alumni Relations, spent SU’s birthday serving cake and ice cream in Schine. He said the birthday celebration preparation is a year-round task, but the bulk of putting together the event has taken place in the last two months. “Every single school and college on campus is involved,” Edelstein said. “Whether it’s decorating or asking for alumni gifts, there are a lot of people who are helping out today.”

While a lot of the Orange Pride can be found at Syracuse University, alumni clubs around the country have come together to #CelebrateSU.

“The alumni clubs have been very supportive,” Edelstein said. “You can walk down pretty much any street with an orange shirt on and someone’s going to recognize Syracuse.” Edelstein said clubs in just about every major city — from Los Angeles to San Francisco to New York City — have been participating in the celebration. The alumni club in NYC even organized a flash mob in Times Square to celebrate SU’s 144th birthday.

Danielle Matfess is part of the Student Organization Traditions Commission, which along with Alumni Relations, the Career Development Center and other various clubs and organizations, has worked to promote and prepare for the event.

“Forty-four is kind of an important number,” Matfess said, explaining the significance of the number 144. Some of the most successful Syracuse football and basketball players have donned the number 44, including Ernie Davis, Jim Brown, Derrick Coleman and John Wallace. In 1986, the university’s zip code was changed to 13244, and in 1988 the University phone prefixes were changed to 442 and 443 to reflect the importance of 44 to SU.

Matfess said lots of people were involved in the event, and the results are exciting. “On the quad tonight at 8 p.m., we’re all going to be holding glow sticks,” Matfess said about Monday night’s scheduled photo. “It’s gonna be awesome.”

Bodeline Dautruche, an African-American studies sophomore, admitted she came into Schine after she heard about the cake. Despite the free food, she was proud to be celebrating SU’s birthday. “SU Pride is such a big deal,” Dautruche said. Especially after the men's basketball team's exit from the NCAA tournament, the school and the students needed something to celebrate, she said.

“Orange pride is one of the things that the whole school runs on,” said Javaughn Loftman, a communications and rhetorical studies freshman who had accompanied Dautruche in tasting SU’s birthday cake. “You see people all over campus wearing orange every day, not just today. The school spirit is a huge deal,” Loftman said.

The celebration of Syracuse University’s 144th birthday has been going on and will continue through March, not only on campus at Syracuse, but all over the country and the world.

“We have an entire Orange Nation of people involved,” Edelstein said. “It’s incredible.”

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