What is the Ramblin’ Reck Club?
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, for whom the Alexander Memorial Coliseum was named, 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 Ramblin’ Reck Club has founded and maintains many of the most beloved traditional events on campus. The Ramblin’ Reck Parade, founded in the late 1920s by Dean Floyd Field and held today during Homecoming, is organized and run by the Ramblin’ Reck Club. The Freshman Cake Race and Mini 500 tricycle race are two other homecoming events maintained by the Ramblin’ Reck Club.
The Club also has maintained its relationship with Tech athletics by offering volunteer services to the Athletic Association during events, as well as working with student organizations to promote student participation and school spirit.
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 Sports Coupe which became known as the Ramblin’ Reck. 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. Since its founding in 1930, the Ramblin’ Reck Club has been an organization of students, committed to the education and promotion of Tech spirit, history and tradition. Members of the Club, who are from all areas of the Tech student community, work together in fulfilling the dreams of such Tech legends as Coaches Alexander and Dodd and Deans Griffin and Dull, that students can infect others in the student body with regard and enthusiasm for all the facets of Tech.