A Ouachita tradition: Guard the Tiger

November 6, 2023

By Kate Ellis, News Editor

November 6, 2023

Long before any pass is thrown or whistle is blown at Cliff Harris Stadium on Nov. 11, and long before the Ouachita Tigers face off with the Henderson Reddies in the most anticipated game of the year, Ouachita students will have spent the entire week prior guarding their most prized possession: the tiger statue.

Carved by student B. F. Worley in place of tuition many decades ago, the famous tiger has observed countless memorable events, overheard thousands of conversations between students on their way to class, assumed the role of sheriff during the ghost town of holiday breaks and survived many Battle of the Ravine weeks. Though some years the statue has fallen victim to the pranks of the sneaky students across the street, the beloved tiger has more often than not emerged from the fateful week with its tail intact and white coat spotless, all thanks to the students of Ouachita whose loyalty runs true. However, as traditions continue, they must also evolve. Brock Bivens, Student Body President and senior mathematics major, speaks on how this year will differ from the ones before it, both in events and efficiency. 

“Usually Guard the Tiger is done inside the Evans Student Center, and that’s not really guarding the tiger, so we’re moving it all outside this year,” Bivens said. “Each night we are partnering with Student Life to have different events, such as silent disco, movie night, bingo and glow in the dark capture the flag. We also voted with Student Senate to change from Monday through Thursday to Tuesday through Friday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Each person who guards the tiger will receive a magnet and button designed by student Benjamin Himaya, along with a tiger security sticker. In addition to that, each hour of Guard the Tiger, we are going to do giveaways. Prizes will start smaller and get bigger as the night goes, totaling $400.”

One thing is for sure: Guard the Tiger week would not be the same without the faithful men of Rho Sigma, who play a vital role in this rich tradition. Sam Gorman, junior kinesiology and recreational ministry major and president of the Men of Rho Sigma, shares the club’s plan for the week. 

“Our main goal for Guard the Tiger is to keep anyone from touching the statue,” Gorman said. “We set up a tent each year right outside the gate and rotate guys to keep an eye on it. Rho Sigma has been doing this tradition since the late 1930s, and we have a really great time with it. We will have guys stationed out there from Sunday until the end of the football game on Saturday. Each night this year, we have different themed events. One night we will have football on the TVs and cornhole for people to play and on another night, tiger feast night, we’ll grill out and eat. Toward the end of the week, there will be a live concert with members of Rho Sigma singing and playing the guitar and drums.”

With the combined efforts of the student senate, student life and social clubs, there will be plenty to keep students occupied while they sacrifice some shut-eye to participate in another year of Guard the Tiger. Each day, the tiger steadfastly watches over the students of Ouachita, so it is only fair that students return the gesture during this historic week.

“Guard the Tiger is one of our longest-standing traditions,” Bivens said. “The Ouachita tiger statue is one of the most important things on campus, so important that we had to put a fence around it. It’s a fun event that’s turned into more of a social event which I think is great. It’s incredible to see Ouachita students come together like this every year.”

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