Slow start for Sci ’17

Colin Goody grabs the tam after a two hour, five minute and 32 second Grease Pole climb.

Tam frosh Collin Goody after ascending the grease pole.
Image by: Colin Tomchick
Tam frosh Collin Goody after ascending the grease pole.

Saturday’s Grease Pole climb had a shaky start, but it came to strong finish as Sci ’17 was inducted to Queen’s.

First-year engineering students awoke before 7 a.m. in order to complete their greasy challenge with a time of two hours, five minutes, and 32 seconds.

It was about a half hour slower than Sci ’16 who, facing poor weather conditions, were forced to delay their climb by two weeks.

Collin Goody, Sci ’17 earned the coveted title of “Tam Frosh” after he ascended the lanolin-covered pole with the help of his fellow engineers.

Goody said he was chosen to grab the tam on the day of the climb by the “Water Team”- Engineering students who organize the tiers in the pit.

“It was a lot longer than I thought it was going to be, but once we got the first tier going it’s so much faster,” he said.

During the first hour and a half it seemed as though the climb was off to a rough start – tiers of people were dismantled more than once due to “twisting” in the centre areas.

The water team and climb director often yelled “break”- a chant telling frosh to dismantle the tier due to safety concerns.

On the third attempt, however, Goody reached the top with little difficulty.

“There’s an hour for us [first-years] to try on our own. Then they let upper years in. They try to put rings [of people] on the bottom, then rings on the top, then one person on top of them,” Jeremy Weiss Sci ’17, said.

Weiss left the halfway through the climb due to the cold temperature.

Before the event started, first-years said they were nervous about the upper year presence at the climb.

“Avoid the upper years, because they’re fucking crazy. They’re going to pelt us with shit,” Karissa Palinka, Sci ’16, said.

“It will probably take them forever,” Jordy Jacobs, a FREC, said.

Jacobs, Sci ’16, was last year’s “Tam Frosh”. This year he said he used his experience in order to advise his frosh on the best way to face the challenge.

“I [told] them it’s all about teamwork. They learn about how to work together for today, and for other projects and assignments throughout the year,” he said. “They should listen to the water team.”

Sci ’16 was the first class to do so on their first climb attempt.

“It was a lot colder so they couldn’t keep them in longer,” said Alex Sieck, Sci ’15.

There were also numerous safety measures available during the event this year.

Erica Pollieri, the director of Queen’s First Aid, said most of the first-years who require attention have small scrapes or dirt in their eyes.

However, she said her team was prepared for more serious injuries.

“We have lifeguards watching the pole at all times,” Pollieri, ArtSci ’14, said.

Police were on hand as well, in case Queen’s security needed extra support to remove people from the lot.

Alumni Brian O’Shaughnessy, Sci ’82, who attended the event, said things have changed since he and his classmates climbed the grease pole.

“When we were doing it, it was actually a grease pit,” he said. “It was filled with oil and animal fat, and the pole was greased with mechanic oil.”

O’Shaughnessy, who was watching his son participate in the climb, said he remembers upper year students throwing tomatoes at first-years as they climbed up the pole.

Nowadays, he said, the atmosphere feels much more inclusive and friendly.

Matt Slavin, Sci ’14, the Orientation Chair for Engineering, said he was happy with the course of events, although the climb was slower than last year.

“Any year where you get the tam off is a success,” he said. “We were able to do it on a third climb, with people talking them through, which is about average.”

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