KU International Affairs

When you've got the traditions down

When your birthday includes a dip in the Chi Omega fountain. When you camp out for basketball tickets, go to the games, Wave the Wheat, cheer the Rock Chalk Chant, and sway to the Alma Mater. When you use "Rock Chalk!" to say hello. Or goodbye. When you and your friends create your own Jayhawk traditions. When you walk down the Hill at Commencement.

Then you're a true member of the family.

The Jayhawk

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Everyone loves our unique Jayhawk, but there’s serious history behind the mythical bird.

More than 150 years ago, settlers in Kansas Territory who opposed slavery called themselves “Jayhawkers.” Local legend says the name combines the sparrow hawk and blue jay.

In KU’s early years – long before the university had an official mascot – students and faculty were already calling themselves Jayhawkers or Jayhawks. The name Jayhawk has stuck ever since as it is recognized around the world as KU’s mythical mascot.

The Rock Chalk Chant

Started as the rallying cry for KU’s science club in 1886, The Rock Chalk Chant relates to the “chalk rock” or limestone, found on the campus buildings. Fans at sporting events and commencement will say the chant as it echoes and gives fans chills and goosebumps. Teddy Roosevelt himself pronounced it the greatest college chant he’d ever heard.


We know basketball. After all, our first coach invented it.

The second you walk into historic Allen Fieldhouse, you’ll feel the presence of Jayhawk tradition. Chant "Rock Chalk!" Sway to the Alma Mater. Cheer on the Jayhawks, and make sure the fieldhouse keeps its reputation as the loudest college basketball arena in the nation.

Waving the Wheat

Sports fans have been doing "the wave" at stadiums across the country for years, but KU has its own version. At crucial moments — for example, when the football team scores or a basketball opponent fouls out — Jayhawks in the stadium lift their arms over their heads and slowly wave them back and forth. From a distance, this looks like a field of red and blue Kansas wheat swaying in a prairie breeze.

Walking the Hill

There’s nothing better than walking down the Hill at Commencement, and our graduates know it. Since 1907, students have celebrated by walking through the Campanile, down the Hill, and into Memorial Stadium for the commencement ceremony. Every year, Jayhawks end their college careers with one of the biggest college traditions in the country.