Starting as early as 1929, coach William Alexander, the legendary head coach of the Yellow Jacket Football Team and NCAA Hall of Fame member, began to publicly lament the lack of spirit and regard for Tech displayed by most of the student body. Coach Alex carried fond memories of his own from his days as the ‘Captain of the Scrubs,’ when he led the Tech practice team for three years, and played on the varsity team his senior year. The student body, like the rest of the nation, was suffering under the early years of the Great Depression. Optimism and enthusiasm were in very short supply during these lean years.
What Coach Alex realized was needed was a group of student leaders, organized to promote school spirit, enthusiasm for the Tech athletic teams, and Tech traditions and history among the student body. In 1930, Alexander approached Professor Fred Wenn, a great friend to the student body, about organizing and founding such a club. Wenn, for whom the present Student Center is named, agreed to take up the task. He set about creating the organization that was founded that same year as the Yellow Jacket Club. The Yellow Jacket Club was to be renamed in 1945 as the Ramblin’ Reck Club, as it is known today. In 1956, four years after Tech admitted its first two women students, the Reck Club became the first non-religious organization on campus to become coed by electing Paula Stevenson to the club.
In those early years the club was responsible for the establishment and enforcement of the “RAT Rules,” the rules concerning the dress and behavior of Tech freshmen. The most famous of these RAT Rules were those concerning the wearing of the Rat Caps, a gold cap worn by freshman students from their arrival on campus to either Winter Break or until Tech beat Georgia at the Thanksgiving Day football game, whichever came first. Male freshman failing to wear their Rat Caps were given T-Cuts, haircuts where their heads were shaved to form a T on their heads. Female transgressors had their hair ‘Ratted’ with hundreds of yellow and white ribbons. Often the Ramblin’ Reck Club’s members were referred to as White Rats, alluding to their regular proximity to the Rats in assemblies and the white Rat Caps that they would wear while the Freshman wore their gold ones.
The most important part of the Club’s responsibilities came about in 1961 when Dean James Dull obtained for the Institute the 1930 Ford Model A Sport Coupe which became known as the Ramblin’ Reck. In 1967, Dull gave the symbol to the Ramblin’ Reck Club to keep for the Institute as representatives of the student body. Since that time, the physical, financial and mechanical care and maintenance for the Ramblin’ Reck has become the sole responsibility of the Ramblin’ Reck Club, from whose ranks the Reck Driver is elected each year. We take pride both in maintaining the physical integrity of the beautiful car through regular maintenance and washings, as well as making the Reck as tangible to campus as possible. We strive to have the Reck out on campus as often as possible, whether it is to support student organizations, to ‘aaogah’ at students on the way to class, to take pictures, to cheer on Georgia Tech athletics, or even to take students back home after a late night of studying.
In addition to our duties involving the Reck, Ramblin’ Reck Club also strives to promote, facilitate, and preserve the traditions that our illustrious Institute is built upon. In fact, Ramblin’ Reck Club is responsible for overseeing several Georgia Tech traditions. T-Book, a publication originally intended for RATS entering Tech, is still written and published annually by Ramblin’ Reck Club for distribution at Freshman Convocation. T-Night is hosted annually before the first football game in order to educate first-years, transfer students, and anyone wanting to learn more about Tech traditions, as well as get everyone excited for the new athletics season. Ramblin’ Reck Club upholds and executes three of Georgia Tech’s favorite Homecoming traditions: Mini 500, Freshman Cake Race, and Wreck Parade. (You can find more information on these events at our Traditions website.) We take interest in helping promote and preserve any other traditions we can, even through presentations and trivia. We are constantly seeking to provide students the education and opportunities to connect with Georgia Tech’s rich history.
In order to promote campus-wide spirit, we also serve the campus through working relationships with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, the Georgia Tech Alumni Association, and the student body at-large. Ramblin’ Reck Club is comprised of various committees and are intended to help serve campus in different ways, from supporting non-revenue sports to partnering with other campus organizations. If there is a way to boost spirit and morale around campus, Ramblin’ Reck Club is ready and willing to help! We have been involved in executing events like “Smile, the Reck Loves You”, an afternoon to take pictures with the Reck and write encouraging notes to fellow classmates, and Headshots with the Reck, a semesterly event that allows students to take a professional headshot next to the Reck for use on professional media outlets. The Club is always seeking members who actively participate in Ramblin’ Reck Club’s agenda and bring new ideas and passion to the table.
With as much work as we do together, we feel it is important to have fun in good company while doing it! While Ramblin’ Reck Club is a student organization, we often refer to ourselves as a family. With only 55 members, it doesn’t take long to get to know everyone while going to sporting events, planning our own events, playing intramurals together, and participating in ‘socials’ that our Members-at-Large plan. Some of these socials have included semi-formals, cabin weekends, road trips to away games, laser tag, and many other spontaneous events. While they are not mandatory events, many Reck Clubbers engage in these socials as a way of bonding and having fun with people who love this Institute just as much as they do.