Customs is one of the few common experiences that all Haverfordians have, and, like the Honor Code, everyone has a different opinion about it.
Customs is a year-long experience cultivated by students, staff, and faculty to facilitate a purposeful transition for new students by introducing resources to develop students’ academic, cultural, emotional, and social capacity for a successful Haverford career.
To welcome every new student to Haverford’s campus community and foster “the values upon which our community depends: mutual trust, concern, and respect for oneself, one another and the community” (Honor Code section 3.02).
- Emotional Resilience
In some sense, Customs is an important part of the glue that brings the community together by providing that common base of experience. Yet in another sense, it's nothing more than a support network put in-place to help students if they need it. What one can be safe in saying, however, is that Customs is a yearlong program that involves nearly 200 upperclass students supporting, in a multiplicity of ways, the first-year class in their transition from high school to college life at Haverford.
Most first-year halls house between ten and twenty first-year students, called Customs Groups, as well as a few on-hall resource people. Living on-the-hall are one Customs Person (CP) and one Upper-Class Advisor (UCA). The Customs Person’s primary role is, if needed, to serve as an all-around support person to their Customs Group. The hall's UCA is a trained peer academic advisor who, along with the Faculty Advisor, facilitates the new students' exploration of and navigation through Haverford's curriculum. UCA’s focus on the student’s holistic academic transition across the course of the first year.
Customs Groups are also supported by the Customs Community Facilitator (CCF), who lives off the hall. The CCF helps facilitate conversations about identity, the Honor Code, and culture and community on Haverford’s campus.
Customs is arguably Haverford's oldest tradition. Its roots reach back to the mid-1800s when upperclassmen spontaneously began keeping the peace in Barclay, the College's first dorm, by quieting the rowdy underclassmen and teaching the new students the 'customs' of the College. At that time, this usually took the form of tossing the frosh head-first into the Duck Pond.
The modern program is, however, above such draconian "welcoming" tactics and now seeks to provide the support and resources that entering students need to make a smooth transition from high school to college life at Haverford.