Men, throw some Clorox on that old white T-shirt. Ladies, dig through your closets and grab a white skirt and matching crop top. It’s Whiteout time.
For years, it has been tradition that students and alumni wear all white to the first home football game of the season, and this Saturday is no exception.
Brad Sutton, senior associate A.D. for public relations and marketing, said that the tradition of the Whiteout began originally after faculty noticed that many students were wearing white to the first home game each year.
“It almost seemed like a uniform,” said Sutton.
The administration took note of the growing trend and presented the first “official” Whiteout in 2009, handing out more than 3,000 shirts to faculty, staff and students. Since then, the tradition has grown into something really meaningful for students and alumni.
“The Whiteout was established before I was here and in my eyes, it’s actually one of the few traditions on campus that was created very recently and has stuck,” said Clay Moore, a senior and president of the student organization Nineteen11.
This Saturday’s Whiteout will also mark the first time that first-year students get to experience the magic of the Boulevard season. They can expect to see a sea of white sundresses, polos and khakis. Many students will be wearing cowboy boots with their outfits which is another Boulevard tradition.
“I think it’s a good way to get freshmen excited about the first Boulevard, and I think it represents a new season where anything can happen,” said David Palumbo, a junior political science and psychology major.
Erin Markey, a senior communications and public relations major, believes that the Whiteout is something that’s become part of the SMU culture.
“I think a lot of students sort of expect it and really look forward to it each year,” said Markey.
Because the first home game this year falls after Labor Day, many students wondered if the tradition would continue. Administrators considered making Saturday’s game a red or blue out since Texas A&M; fans are also expected to be clad in white, one of the school’s official colors.
But many students were anticipating the Whiteout and others claimed they would be disappointed if the tradition didn’t carry on this year. And so it will continue.
“My son graduated in 2012 and he called last night asking if it was a Whiteout,” said Arlene Manthey, development officer of student affairs. “So there’s an indication that yes, I think our younger alumni are into it and assuming we’re doing it.”
Not only is the Whiteout so beloved because of its sense of history and tradition, but because it represents a sense of community.
“The Whiteout exemplifies the student body’s ability to come together as one, to have school spirit and present a united front,” said Riley Spencer, a junior biology major.
While the Whiteout has meaningful significance in the eyes of students, it perhaps is even more meaningful to alumni, who return to the first Boulevard year after year eager to celebrate their alma mater in a way they’ve grown accustomed to.
“It’s a way we can all feel that we’re part of the community, even if we’ve already graduated,” said Katie O’Neil, a 2014 SMU graduate. “But it’s more than that; it’s tradition, it’s classy and it’s something that really gets everyone pumped up for the football season.”