Student Celebration at Starvation Gulch

Kyrie Long / Sun Star

Every year the UAF Student Activities Office (SAO) holds a bonfire celebration called Starvation Gulch. The bonfire has been a notable UAF tradition since 1923. “It’s supposed to symbolize the passing of traditions to new students and faculty members at UAF,” Dani Atkins, student assistant and Nanook Traditions Chair, said.

The celebration is also the grounds for other traditions activity.  In 1956 UAF President Ernest Patty passed a campus wide alcohol ban as result of drunken fights breaking out. In 1957, the UAF Tradition Stone was created and engraved “Here Lies Tradition, 1957” to commemorate the occasion.

The stone, which was taken from it’s designated place outside of Constitution Hall that same year, is frequently stolen and subsequently changes location often, and makes an appearance at Starvation Gulch annually. It has not remained in the same spot for more than one year since its creation. The ban on alcohol, which initially caused the creation of the Tradition Stone, has since been lifted.

Starvation Gulch takes place in the Nenana parking lot across from the Patty Center on Sept. 25 at 10 p.m.  Situated around the lot will be booths for student clubs and a D.J. to provide music. In previous years, booths have offered food, candy and assorted goods from student clubs. This year there will be an area designated on the concrete surrounding the D.J. booth for students to dance in.

“I hope students will have a good time,” Atkins said. The aim of Starvation Gulch is not only to mark the passing of tradition, but also to get students involved in clubs. Atkins hopes that Starvation Gulch will lead to participation in more student activities. With the club booths and dancing area already planned for this year, there will be plenty of opportunities to connect to other students.

Students may also sign up to build a structure out of wooden pallets to be burned at the designated time. Students who wish to sign up may do so as individuals or teams, which compete to have their structure earn bragging rights and a number of titles such as “Most Creative” and “Big Ass Flame.” Anyone interested in building a structure to burn at the bonfire may ask about sign-ups in the SAO office, located inside the Wood Center.

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