Terps’ World Record Attempts

Who doesn’t relish a good pillow fight? Back in 2009, University of Maryland students sought to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Pillow Fight! On April 17, 2009, the Senior Council organized 1,834 students on McKeldin Mall to beat the British Broadcasting Corporation’s 2008 record.

Gazette_Pillow Fight
Pillow Fight on McKeldin Mall, April 17, 2009. Brenda Ahearn/The Gazette

 

Although the Senior Council’s effort failed to break the record of 3,706 people, the event successfully raised $6,000 for Dream Village Inc., a nonprofit children’s book publisher.[1] Two days later, columnist Rob Gindes lamented in The Diamondback that fewer people participated in the pillow fight than in the SGA elections.[2] You can read more about the pillow fight on the University Archives MAC to Millennium site under “P.”

We should try to set a goofy world record every Friday. Who cares if we don’t succeed? – Rob Gindes, The Diamondback

It turns out that the University of Maryland has a track record for failed Guinness World Record attempts. In 1981, students assembled on McKeldin Mall for a very different purpose than the protests only ten years earlier (see the UMD123: 3 post).  On April 29, 1981, students gathered on the Mall to break the Guinness World Record for Unsupported Lap Sitting. According to The Diamondback, the student body had already failed to eclipse the record the previous year, and the Guinness Book of World Records did not even list lap sitting as a category! Nevertheless, the University Commuters Association amassed 2,768 students and garnered local media attention from WRC-TV and WTTG in Washington and WBAL in Baltimore for their “sit-in.” While the lap-sitting event broke no records, students reportedly enjoyed an afternoon of camaraderie on that beautiful Friday in April.

Sittin' Pretty

Have you ever participated in a Guinness World Record attempt on campus?  Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments!

The Diamondback’s reporting, including humorous perspectives on failed efforts to break world records, provides an invaluable perspective on the history of the university. As the University of Maryland’s primary student newspaper, The Diamondback records the voice of the student body. Thanks to generous donations and a successful Launch UMD campaign, the University Archives is digitizing the entire run of the newspaper. The Diamondback will be online and searchable in 2016 and in the meantime, it is currently available on microfilm.

This post is the ninth in a series by graduate student assistant Jen Wachtel, who is collecting data for the Diamondback Digitization Project. Check out the Twitter hashtag #digiDBK or the DigiDBK tag on the Terrapin Tales blog for previous posts, and look for her posts every other Monday and monthly during the summer session.   

[1] http://www.gazette.net/stories/04232009/largnew172537_32529.shtml

[2] http://www.dbknews.com/archives/article_07954fbc-1d70-5392-931c-9f4dafde66e9.html

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UMD’s Fountain of Youth

Everyone knows about the beautiful and iconic fountain that complements McKeldin Mall, but can you imagine what the mall looked like before the fountain existed? In a Diamondback article from 1964, we get a glimpse as the author writes about the ugly swamp-like condition of the mall and even calls for the construction of a fountain to fix the problem.

Turns out that this student would get exactly what he wanted, although it took 25 years for it to happen. The 16 x 250 foot fountain that graces McKeldin Mall today was completed in 1991 and honors members of the campus chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa honor society.  Each level of the fountain signifies one of the leadership qualities found in ODK members. The engravings around the walls of the fountain include quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin Roosevelt, as well as the ODK symbol, a listing of fraternity members from the university, and a plaque honoring donors who contributed to the construction of the fountain.

Today the fountain is one of the largest university symbols and a hotbed for student activity in the spring semester. Students love to sit out and relax by the fountain and will occasionally take their shoes off and wade in. Students have even wake-boarded on the fountains waters and constructed a hand-cranked ferry to cross from one side to the other.

ODK fountain