Celebrating a century of student life traditions

From its inception in 1920, the Rotman Commerce community has evolved over the years, shaped by a multitude of student life traditions that have created a vibrant and supportive environment for students to learn, grow and connect.  

The beginnings of tradition

Connecting beyond the classroom: the Rotman Commerce community’s practice of hosting social events for students to connect beyond the academic realm has become a cherished tradition. The program’s early years featured an array of wine and cheese evenings, welcome BBQs and pizza parties to provide students with an opportunity to unwind, engage in meaningful conversation and strengthen their social networks.  

Channeling competitive spirit: sporting events have long since been a thrilling aspect of student life at Rotman Commerce. Bowling was the first ever sporting tournament held by the Commerce Club, beginning in the 1920s with an annual competition that was held at Karry’s Alleys (now Shoppers Drug Mart, Dundas Square, 279-283 Yonge St). Although student interest in bowling faded during the mid-century, the Commerce Students’ Association (CSA) revived the sport in 1989 with the CSA Rock & Bowls event. Alongside bowling, miniature golf was a popular sport in the early years of Rotman Commerce, featuring an annual tournament beginning in the 1930s where students and professors alike participated and competed against each other. Similarly, the Commerce Club hosted an annual squash tournament for the Crocombe Trophy, which was gifted by Professor Crocombe of the accounting department. Such events fostered team spirit and sportsmanship within the community, and also served as an outlet for stress relief and bonding among students. 

A night of celebration: formals are a longstanding Rotman Commerce tradition that have been eagerly anticipated by generations of students every year. A night of dancing and celebration in a beautiful venue provides an opportunity for students to dress up, socialize and create lasting memories. The Commerce Club’s annual At-Home formal was established in the early years of the program and was first held at the Royal York Hotel, where attendees included graduates of the Commerce Program and representatives from the Commerce Clubs of Queen’s University and Western University. This event quickly became a cherished component of student life. In 1933, in light of the repercussions of the Great Depression on students, the Commerce Club decided to lower the ticket prices of the year’s At-Home formal, with Political Science and Commerce staff cancelling the following day’s examinations to encourage students to attend the dance as well. These efforts proved successful, resulting in an exceptional turnout for the event. The Commerce Students’ Association’s annual formals have since transformed into the Rotman Commerce Gala, which is hosted each year.

Evolving into present day

Rotman Commerce’s student life traditions have evolved over the years, adapting to the changing needs and interests of students. Today, they encompass an even broader range of opportunities, and play an integral role in connecting students, fostering personal growth and nurturing a sense of community and belonging. New traditions such as Exam Jam, therapy dogs, the RC Coding Café and intramural sports will continue to shape the experiences and memories of Rotman Commerce students now and in the years ahead.  

Lead photo: CSA Formal 2002 from the 2002 Commerce Yearbook