UTEP has many winter traditions, however snow is not always one of them. Throughout the fall many students continue wearing shorts and sandals. When the university does get snow, everyone runs outside to take a picture because it usually only lasts for a few hours. This constitutes UTEP’s longest running and most consistent winter tradition: remembering the other winters when it did snow. If you bring up the topic of snow, people will almost always immediately tell you about the times it snowed while they were at UTEP.
The tradition is most definitely an informal one–but remains an important one. UTEP’s harsh desert climate and unique location on the border with Mexico at times makes it a dramatically different academic experience from other universities across the nation.
Talking about snow, performing seasonal songs at the UTEP Holiday Spectacular, and lighting up the campus in the past with the Season of Lights are all traditions that empower a sense of shared experience. However, many of the “traditions” at UTEP are both intermittent and relatively new given the long history of the school. The difficulty is that UTEP is a commuter school, and the majority of students don’t leave the campus for the holidays: they just go home at the end of the work day. Holiday traditions at UTEP therefore try to emulate traditional seasonal activities while making celebrations more open to the community beyond the student population.
Andy Klooster served as an assistant in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP Library. He is currently an MA student in History at UTEP.