One of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Customs
The custom: Chanting a school fight song
One of the best: The Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant
Best place to see the cheer being performed is at a KU basketball or football game. Or, click here
to see it on You Tube. Or, click here
to listen to the KU Men's Glee Club.
|Photo: David McKinney/KU University Relations|
You can see the chant etched in stone on the first floor of the Kansas Union. A display next to the steps illustrates the chant and its history.
Also, a history panel documenting the chant's story is on the fourth floor.
KU's world famous Rock Chalk Chant evolved from a cheer that a
chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey, created for the KU science club in
1886. Bailey's version was "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" repeated three
times. The rahs were later replaced by "Rock Chalk," a transposition of
chalk rock, the name for the limestone outcropping found on Mount
Oread, site of the Lawrence campus.
In 1897 it became the official cheer for the University of Kansas. The chant begins low and gradually builds in volume. There are pauses
between each word to allow the students a few seconds to yell and
scream. By the end of the chant, the gym erupts as students yell as
loud as they can.
Since the early 1990s, Kansas fans have been known to do the
slow repetition of "Rock Chalk... Jay-Hawk... KU" when the Jayhawks are
believed to be safely ahead, guaranteeing a victory.
EVEN TEDDY ROOSEVELT LIKED IT
The cheer became known worldwide. Teddy Roosevelt pronounced it the
greatest college chant he'd ever heard. Legend has it that troops
used the chant when fighting in the Philippines in 1899, in the Boxer
Rebellion in China, and in World War II. At the Olympic games in 1920,
the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell. The
assembled athletes agreed on KU's Rock Chalk and rendered it for His
Sources: http://www.ku.edu/about/traditions/; www.kusports.com; wikipedia
Looking down at the Rock Chalk Bench. Photo: David McKinney/KU University Relations