By Megan J. Badgley, assistant archivist at MSU's University Archives & Historical Collections.
Each May, dozens of students are mysteriously kidnapped by their loved ones and deposited at the foot of Beaumont Tower. Dressed in pajamas and blankets, some blindfolded and bound, they discover they have been “tapped” to become Tower Guards. “Tapping of the Guard at the May Morning Sing” dates back many decades.
In spring 1933, the Q Girls emerged on MSC’s campus. A sophomore honorary society, the organization held Christmas parties for local children, acted as dorm hostesses during Freshmen Week and assisted with an annual rummage sale. Sponsored by MSU First Lady Sarah Shaw, the Q Girls officially became the Tower Guard in 1934. It’s the only student organization holding keys to the Tower.
The Tower Guard is known for its community service. In 1938 Marian Patch suggested the Tower Guard read to blind students as a service project. That program later expanded to include assisting deaf and hearing-impaired students. The Tower Guard raises money for Tower upkeep at activities such as its annual Open House held following the Homecoming football game, when the public may tour Beaumont Tower.
Pledges’ names are kept secret until the May Morning Sing. In the early days, pledges’ parents hid and surprised them when their name was called. As membership increased, the Tower Guard refined its tactics. Parents, family, and references were secretly contacted to help devise plans to lure unsuspecting pledges to the Tower. Some plans were simple, like offers of breakfast or a peaceful morning jog. Other plans were cleverer; one pledge partook in a scavenger hunt that led to waiting parents at Beaumont Tower. However, kidnapping is the most popular method. Initiates are snatched from their dorm rooms at dawn, blindfolded and bound, and dragged to Beaumont Tower.
Today the Tower Guard remains committed to serving students with disabilities by converting textbooks into electronic formats and holding a St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K Run/Walk/Roll to raise money for the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities’ endowment fund.
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