Before warming up on Thursday for day four of Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko, Associate Dean Jean Treese had an important message for Dodd-Mead House: Keep your clothes on. While the house is best known for its annual dominance in the winter festival house competition, winning isn’t its only tradition. On the last day, while everyone does 10 sun salutations at Promontory Point, the fourth-year members of Dodd-Mead take off one article of clothing for each repetition. This year may end that tradition, with projected temperatures well below zero.
Despite the frigid weather, over 400 people gathered at Henry Crown Monday morning to mark the the festival’s 25th anniversary. “Kuvia,” as it is commonly called, is an annual winter festival run by the Council of University Programming (COUP) during which students and faculty gather to salute the sun and participate in various martial arts and dance related exercises intended to ward off the winter blues commonly felt during winter quarter. The festival is held indoors and culminates on Friday with a walk to the Point and a free T-shirt for students who attend all five days.
The house competition, in which COUP awards $100 to the house with the highest participation ratio, was instated to incentivize students to wake up, Treese said. Dodd-Mead House in Burton Judson has created its own tradition out of the competition, hoping for their 12th straight win this year. The importance of the winning streak isn’t lost on other houses in Burton-Judson.
“There are only certain things they get into, and Kuvia is one of them,” second-year and Salisbury resident Alice Nesto said. “They get really insular—it seems kind of like a cult.”
Dodd-Mead plans to go all out this year as well, with Resident Heads delivering wake-up calls each morning. And even though plans for the annual walk to the Point were scrapped due to the extreme cold, some residents are planning the trek anyway.
The members of Dodd-Mead House seemed oblivious to the buzz surrounding their activity, arriving with over 20 members each day this week. Each had a different explanation for why they keep the tradition alive.
“I just like stumbling out of bed,” said Hannah Maher Cook, a former Dodd-Mead resident who continues to attend the winter festival despite the fact that she has recently transferred from U of C to Roosevelt University. Cook calls herself an ex-patriot and said she is happy to continue supporting the house.
“Dodd-Mead goes because Dodd-Mead goes. It’s what we do,” said third-year Sarah Staudt, who has a more predestined view of her house’s dynastic winning streak. “It’s the only thing we can do. We haven’t won an intramural sports t-shirt in nine years, so we do this instead.”
Resident Heads Tim McGovern and Thelma Tennant are just as involved, if not more so, than their residents. “We’ve been coming for nine years,” said McGovern, who was the only person to raise his hand on Monday when former Dean of the College Don Levine asked if anyone had been coming for over four years. Tennant recalled trying to do the sun salutation while she was nine months pregnant. Their daughter Penelope has also been in attendance this week, and McGovern said he brought her a few days last year as well.
The celebration of Kuvia’s silver anniversary has been accompanied by several time-honored rituals in addition to the house competition. Levine, one of Kuvia’s initial founders, led warm-up on Monday while wearing the original 1983 Kuvia shirt. Dean of Students Susan Art led warm-up on Wednesday, and Treese, another founder, taught attendees the customary sun salutation. Another old tradition, the knitting competition, designed to donate scarves to local homeless shelters, was reinstated this year. “Knitting fell out of favor, but knitting is back,” Treese said.
The Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko festivities will conclude Friday with sun salutations and T-shirt-claiming at Henry Crown, and of course, the much-anticipated naming of the house competition winner.