Freshman Pledge Ceremony
The first Torch Night, called the Freshman Pledge Ceremony, was held on October 9, 1925. It was renamed Freshman Torch Night in 1929. Vic Davis, secretary of the Alumni Association; Ralph Frost, head of the campus YMCA, and students Bob and Warren Kennerly instituted the ceremony, which was patterned after a candlelight ceremony for seniors at the University of South Carolina. Freshmen lined up at the Gym (where Alumni Memorial Building stands now) and, in response to bugle calls from Ayres Tower, marched up the Hill to the steps of Ayres Hall, in two single lines from the east and west sides. The freshmen gave a yell for the sophomores and one for the juniors as they made their way to the steps of Ayres. Candles were passed out as they came up the stairs in front of Ayres. The ceremony included a dedicatory prayer and the playing of Taps in memory of the university’s dead. A chosen senior representative then passed the Torch of Preparation to a designated freshman, signifying the inclusion of the freshmen in the student body. The freshmen then chanted the UT Pledge in unison. “Standing beneath the shadows of this tower, and in the presence of the student body here assembled, I pledge my allegiance to the school of my choice, the University of Tennessee, and to the ideals for which she so nobly stands. My prayer is that I may so conduct myself that Tennessee will be proud to call me her own.” The freshmen then lit their candles and walked down the Hill in silence.