Louisiana State University, located in Baton Rouge, LA, is one of the most spirited schools in the Southeast. Since the university was founded in 1853, many traditions have been developed for students to take part in. The school traditions are intertwined with local history, enriching the vibrant culture Louisiana is known for. Students, alumni, and fans all work together to preserve these traditions and continue the Tiger legacy. Some traditions include wearing purple and gold, visiting Mike the Tiger, and learning the lyrics to the alma mater and fight song. Learn about all these traditions and the history behind them below.
LSU’s school colors were inspired by the French-Creole culture that plays a large role in Louisiana’s local history. Purple and gold are linked to Mardi Gras celebrations and representations of royalty. They are also the official colors of the LSU Tigers. You’ll see students and fans wearing LSU purple and gold for sporting events, and some even go as far as to paint their bodies and/or faces.
LSU fans with painted faces at a Tigers tennis match. Photo by John Brooks via Flickr.
Mike the Tiger is LSU’s school mascot. Mike isn’t an ordinary mascot, however; he’s a living, breathing tiger that lives on campus! He lives in a 15,105-square-foot, USDA-licensed habitat, where he is cared for by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. Having a living mascot has been a tradition for LSU since 1936. The current tiger acting as mascot is Mike VII. The Wild at Heart Wildlife Center in Okeechobee, Florida donated him, and he arrived on the LSU campus on August 15, 2017 at 11 months old.
“Alma mater” comes from a Latin phrase that means university or college, and is the term someone uses to refer to the school from which they have graduated. Most collegiate institutions also have a song called an alma mater that honors the best qualities of the school. It’s typically played at football games, basketball games, other sporting events, graduation ceremonies, and special occasions. The LSU alma mater is a song every student, teacher, graduate, and Tiger fan should know!
True or False: LSU’s fight song is “Hey Fighting Tigers.”
This is false. “Hey Fighting Tigers” is commonly mistaken for LSU’s fight song. While this is a popular song played during football games, LSU’s fight song is actually “Fight for LSU.” It was written for the university in 1937, while “Hey Fighting Tigers” did not come about until 1962. The songwriter of the original fight song, Castro Carazo, is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, along with the Tiger Band, which was inducted in 2009. The Tiger Band plays the fight song during football games when the team runs onto the field, after a field goal or extra point is attempted/scored, and at the end of each half.
Being a student at LSU is a great experience, and the many traditions students can participate in contribute to that. Student life and campus involvement are main priorities for LSU. Additional information on traditions can be found on the LSU Campus Life website. To get more involved, make a visit to the Division of Student Affairs office in Thomas Boyd Hall. You can also find student groups particular to your major on the LSU College Organizations page. Taking part in traditions and getting involved with student groups will make your time at LSU more memorable!