Stepsinging evolved from informal social gatherings at the college center.
With the dedication of Houghton Memorial Chapel in 1899, students began to assemble on the chapel steps, and a new tradition was born.
Today, there are two Stepsinging events each academic year, and one held during Reunion. In fall, it is held in the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Hay Outdoor Amphitheater after Convocation. On the last day of classes in the spring, students gather on the Chapel steps, with a champagne toast to Seniors.
The Alumnae Association provides traditional songbooks and students assemble by classes to try to out-sing and out-cheer the other classes.
One song, “Ballad of a Bold Bad Man” by Louise Tibbetts Smith ’39, was inspired by the outcome of the 1939 hooprolling race: The winner was revealed to be a Harvard student, the editor of the Harvard Lampoon, who infiltrated the race. Appalled, Wellesley seniors promptly seized him and dumped him into Lake Waban, beginning the lake-tossing tradition. The most enthusiastic participation comes from “America the Beautiful,” with lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, Class of 1880, all interspersed by colorful class cheers throughout the singing.
Dressed in their respective class colors—red, yellow, purple, and green—students rally behind the elected songmistresses for each class. The rainbow of colors serves as a reminder that despite differences, Wellesley students form a cohesive and dynamic community of scholars (and, in this case, singers).