Kuvia draws biggest crowds ever after last year’s cold-dampened festivities

Attendance, interest, and activities have only increased since Kuvia’s inception in 1983.

By Tiffany Young

Participants in Kuvia/Kangeiko will walk to the Point once again today to salute the rising sun, after freezing temperatures prevented the walk from occurring last year.

“The salutes to the sun at the Point are the culmination of the entire event; it’s what everyone looks forward to the whole week,” said fourth-year Agnes Bugaj, chair of the Counsel on University Programming, the organization that runs Kuvia/Kangeiko.

Last year, dangerously low temperatures caused buses to freeze and warranted serious frostbite warnings. “Being able to go to the point and see the sun rise over the water this year should be really beautiful,” Jean Treese, associate dean of students, said.

Attendance, interest, and activities have only increased since Kuvia’s inception in 1983. Today, the Kangeiko crowd ranges from excited first-year newbies to fourth years taking advantage of their last chance to see what Kangeiko is about.

On Monday, Treese took one look at a well-filled Henry Crown and said it was the biggest turnout the event has ever had.

“More and more people have come out every year. It’s true this has to do with the increasing number of students in the College, but I think more people are recognizing what a fun tradition this is,” Treese said. Over 400 students attended Monday’s session, with numbers dropping off somewhat on Tuesday.

“It’s always like this, the first day always has the best showing, and there are less people towards the end of the week, but we expect about 250 to 300 people on Friday,” Bugaj said.

Every morning is an intense ritual—those interested must add theirs to the pool of synchronized alarm clocks blaring at around 5:30 a.m. and join the stream of people making the trip to the gym.

No one understands Kuvia better more than residents of Dodd-Mead, in Burton-Judson, who have won the house competition 12 years in a row and are bidding for a 13th. “It’s hard to wake up, but I feel like it energizes me. I feel more awake, especially in the mornings, but also throughout the day,” Dodd-Mead House member and first-year Caterina Maclean said.

Morning stretches are led by different administrators every morning, from Ted O’Neill instructing the room to “shake your tushes” in the hokey pokey, to Dean of Students Susan Art demonstrating the effectiveness of “aerobic bursts.” As in the past, different dance and martial arts RSOs are invited to lead tutorials on their craft; after students perform their customary calisthenics, they can experiment with anything from tae kwon do to ballet, tap dance to flamenco.

Kuvia has its roots in a freshmen class retreat that was held the weekend after winter break in Wisconsin. But bad weather and hostile blizzards kept students on campus and unenthusiastic about retreat dates later in the quarter. Sociology professor and former dean of students Don Levine brought it back in 1983, citing the need for a winter festival.

Treese named the festival “Kuvia” out of “Kuviasungnerk,” an Eskimo word that refers to a time of the year when the fish are plentiful and the mood ripe for celebration. Treese said it captured the essence of happiness and energy that she wanted to usher into the normally bleak Chicago winter.

With an enduring passion for martial arts, Levine suggested it incorporate Kangeiko, after an early-morning exercise regimen practiced by Japanese samurai. Ever since, Kangeiko has been a second-week staple. “The one year it was cancelled, students protested to bring it back,” Treese said.