From sprinting to Franklin Street after a special men's basketball victory to drinking water from the Old Well to earn good luck — and a 4.0 GPA — UNC has established quite the selection of treasured rituals students and alumni alike have carried on throughout the school's 232-year history.
For new students and old, understanding these traditions are a critical element to becoming immersed in UNC's student culture.
Whether you’re watching from the Dean E. Smith Center, a friend’s apartment, one of the many restaurants on Franklin Street or even your own dorm room, Tar Heels always have their running shoes ready when it’s the night of a men's basketball game against Duke.
If UNC defeats its blue-blooded rivals, students from across Chapel Hill will dash toward the intersection of Franklin and Columbia streets to celebrate together.
“When there’s a Duke basketball game, you don’t do anything else during the whole day,” rising junior Kayla Nesbitt said.
For some students, this rush to Franklin Street after a win can stretch more than a mile, especially if they are starting all the way from the dorms on South Campus.
The long-standing tradition of rushing traces back to at least the 1950s, but was first documented in its entirety in 1981, when UNC played against Virginia in the Final Four and claimed a 13-point victory.
Since then, crowds have become so big that the Town restricts parking and closes some streets ahead of UNC-Duke and some NCAA basketball games in anticipation of a potential rush.
So if you happen to see a mattress on fire amidst a crowd on Franklin Street late at night in the middle of basketball season, do not be alarmed. That means Duke has lost, and North Carolina has won the biggest rivalry in college basketball.