Northwestern University


Sometimes taken for granted in the realm of Big Ten athletics, Northwestern University is steeped in rich, steadfast traditions. The original school colors were black and gold, until a University committee decided that those colors were too common, and Northwestern needed something different. Therefore, purple was chosen in 1894 as the official school color. White was not introduced at the same time, but is mentioned in the Alma Mater (“hail to purple, hail to white”), written in 1907. Since that time, Wildcats have donned Purple and White as their official school colors.

School Colors: Purple & White
Nickname: Wildcats
Mascot: Willie the Wildcat


Located just south of University Hall (1897 Sheridan Road Evanston, IL 60208), The Rock is a purple and white quartzite boulder dating from hundreds of millions of years ago. A... (more)


Go! U Northwestern “Go! U Northwestern” was written following a Wildcat (then “Purple”) 1912 win over Indiana. Student Theodore Van Etten was inspired by both the win, and the crowd pleasing Hoosier fight song, so he created the lyrics on the way home from the game in Bloomington. The song debuted at old Northwestern Field on November 23, 1912 during the NU-Illi... (more)


  Every winter, Dance Marathon (DM) raises several hundred thousand dollars for charity (they passed the $1M mark in 2011.) Started in 1975, the 30-hour dance marathon attracts thousands of students, staff and faculty to dance for a cause. All participants register as “dancer couples” and must raise a minimum of $800 to dance. Bands play, ... (more)


  Northwestern students and athletes were first known as the “Northwestern Purple” when ‘royal purple’ became the official school color in 1892. At some point, the school was also nicknamed the "Fighting Methodists," referring to the fact that NU was originally founded on Methodist religious principles. The first mascot at Northwestern was a live bear cub from the Lincoln Park Z... (more)


To celebrate the end of the school year, Mayfest is a weekend long celebration highlighted by Armadillo Day or “Dillo Day.” Mayfest is rooted as far back as the 1890s, when students celebrated the "renunciation of the May Queen of the temporal world for a spiritual one.” The Crowning of the May ... (more)


  Although no one really knows how this started, three Sundays a year, echoing, howling screams can be heard all over campus. Precisely at 9pm on the Sunday before finals week, students gather outside or lean out their windows, collectively yelling at the top of their lungs, signaling the start of the most stressful week of the quarter. (more)