Rat Traditions

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RATS wearing RAT caps

RAT traditions were started when the school was created in 1888.[1] These traditions became the basic guidelines that all RATS had to live by. RATS are "recently acquired tech students". This acronym originated with the campus ROTC program.[2] Over time, the whole campus became a part of this tradition and started calling new students RATS. RATS were of critical importance to the history of Georgia Institute of Technology because all older, involved students or alumni were once a RAT. For RATS to be able to fit into the Georgia Tech community they had to be accepted. This is why it is of critical importance to teach RATS the customs and traditions of the Georgia Tech community. RATS have expectations that they must meet to be sure that traditions are upheld.


RAT Rules

RAT rules were guidelines that all freshman had to follow regarding the traditions at Georgia Tech. There were six rules that rats had to live by.

1. Will wear a "RAT" cap with proper inscription at all times. It is not mandatory that the "RAT" cap be worn on Sundays.

2. Will know the school songs - Ramblin' Wreck, Alma Mater, White & Gold, and all cheers.

3. Will attend and participate in all "RAT" songs.

4. Will speak to everyone - a Techman is proud of his association with his school and fellow students.

5. Will not enter the campus post office between 9:45 and 10:15 A.M. on school days.

6. Will not wear high school letters or emblems on the campus.[3]

RAT Caps

The wearing of RAT caps was viewed as one of the most important RAT rules[3]. RAT caps were a gold cap worn on the head of all new students. This cap differentiated RATS from upperclassman. Through this differentiation RATS were allowed the opportunity to become more familiar with the school, traditions and fellow classmates. Enforcement of wearing RAT caps has changed drastically. As an early Georgia Tech tradition, RATS that were found not wearing their RAT caps were hazed. The most infamous hazing that took place was the shaving of a T into a male student's head or the ratting of braids to a female student.[4] Currently, RAT caps are mostly worn to football games. Although there is no longer hazing associated with new students not wearing the RAT cap; it is still considered a tradition today to wear them.[5]

School Songs

The three school songs that RATS were required to know were the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech, the Alma Mater, and Up With the White and Gold[6]. These songs were sung at sports games, in particular football, to encourage school spirit and triumph over the opposing team. The purpose of requiring RATS to participate was to encourage them to get involved in the community atmosphere of Georgia Tech. Although it is no longer "required" for RATS to know and participate in these songs, refraining is strongly discouraged.


One very important RAT rule was to speak to everyone[3]. This purpose of this rule was for the RAT to show a pride among the students and the school. Pride was important because it encouraged RATS to truly value their association with the school. Demonstrating pride brought a connection among the Georgia Tech community and displayed the values and morals highlighted on campus to all. This RAT tradition made it important to only show allegiance to Georgia Tech's community. This is why one was not supposed to wear high school emblems or letters on campus.[3] This helped all RATS feel closer as they completely developed a pride of their new school. Georgia Tech pride made it appear that all RATS were abandoning the old for a greater, newer community together. Having pride helped draw RATS together and brought the entire Georgia Tech community together.

Expectations: Creation vs. Today

RAT rules allowed RATS to be distinguished from other students and also gave the RAT the most opportunity to fit into the Georgia Tech community. RAT rules were established in 1963[3] and the enforcement has changed over time. The ideals, however, have remained the same. These similar ideals can be seen by comparing the traditions of the Georgia Tech community throughout time. RAT traditions have, however, changed in modern times.


The greatest differences in RAT traditions between today and creation is enforcement of the RAT rules. RAT rules are no longer requirements to prevent hazing on the college campus. RAT rules used to be enforced through RAT T-cuts and RAT braiding.[5] This no longer takes place. Instead participation in the traditions and contributing to the morale of the community is strongly encouraged, allowing a voluntary act of school spirit. This voluntary act makes the school spirit genuine and stronger and also removes the oppressed feeling of RATS. RAT rules being an option positively affects the Georgia Tech community.


The ideals and traditions that RATS should be involved with and proud of in the Georgia Tech community have remained the same throughout time. Contrasting the original RAT rules and modern RAT rules highlights the traditions of Georgia Tech that are the same today. This contrast shows that the basic ideals have remained the same. Most of the traditions including the school songs, the wearing of RAT caps, and having school pride have are still upheld. These ideals are of great importance to the history of Georgia Tech. This truly shows how the values have remained unchanged over the course of time.[citation needed]


These RAT traditions had a great influence on Georgia Tech. The expectations of all RATS forced students to learn about the history of Georgia Tech’s community. RAT traditions also made it mandatory that students participated and enjoyed the community through student activities and partaking in songs and pep rallies.[3] This really strengthened the campus morale and brought closeness among a large community. This in turn affected the area of Atlanta, especially Midtown, because it was built around this campus. Having a city built on a great community, such as the Georgia Tech campus, really strengthens the ideals of working together. Georgia Tech RATS also brought their positive attitudes to the city by participating in community service and gaining cultural and artistic development from it. This then had an amazing influence on the larger world. When the world encompasses cities that are built on hard work and positive attitudes it helps the world take on these traits.



  1. (October 22, 2010). In Library, Georgia Tech Retrieved October 22, 2010 from http://www.library.gatech.edu/gtbuildings/hopkins.htm
  2. Rat"The Technique 7 July 1945, Print
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Rat Rules"The Technique 16 September 1963, Print
  4. Frosh, Beware! Observe Traditions"The Technique 7 July 1945, Print
  5. 5.0 5.1 Frosh Hazing Has Gone But the Rat Caps Remain."The Technique 20 September 1948, Print
  6. Georgia Tech traditions (10 October 2010). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 22 October 2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Tech_traditions#Fight_songs
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