Baker College (Rice University)

Baker College (Rice University)

James Addison Baker College is one of nine residential colleges on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas. Like the other eight residential colleges on the Rice campus, James Addison Baker College provides undergraduate residential and dining facilities, social organizations and student government, as well as faculty members and alumni and community associates.


Baker was the first residential building on campus. Baker Commons was the first unit completed in 1914, following Rice's opening in 1912. The commons served as the university’s central dining hall for 43 years. The next building completed was East Hall, now known as the "Old Wing" of Baker. These buildings remained virtually unchanged until the installation of the college system in 1957, when the addition of the "New Wing" and the master's house, Baker House, were added.

Baker was established as one of the 5 original residential colleges at Rice in the fall of 1957. It was named in honor of Captain James Addison Baker, the man who uncovered the murder conspiracy surrounding William Marsh Rice. He served as the Rice Institute's first chairman on the Board of Trustees from June 24, 1891 until his death in 1941. Captain James A. Baker was not only William Marsh Rice’s trusted lawyer, but he also was the first chair of the Rice Board of Governors. The university honored him in 1957 with the naming of Baker College.

Baker's surroundings and environment have contributed to building the personality and uniqueness that we now know and love. These surroundings are easily divided into four general categories: The Commons, "Old Wing," "New Wing," and the Baker Master's House. By far the most impressive and valuable asset to the college is the Commons. With its high ceilings, engraved oak beams, and Elizabethan design, the Great Hall provides a commons and dining area that is the envy of the rest of the university. Due to a series of student "food riots" during the early years of the college, the Commons' plaster walls have been replaced with dark wood paneling. Because of its beauty, Baker is a common attraction for tour groups.


Baker 13: Baker College is the home of Baker 13. It is a semimonthly event occurring on the 13th and either the 26th or the 31st of each month. Students from all colleges gather at Baker and remove all clothing with the exception of shoes. Shaving cream is then applied to cover the body for modesty and to satisfy Texas decency laws. They then take a lap around campus touring the colleges, Fondren library, and the Brochstein Pavillion and leaving behind them only body prints on their windows. The run used to stop by Valhalla where they were served free beer, but this part of the tradition has since stopped because runners can't carry ID's to prove they're 21. They also stop by the door of the career services building and mourn the fact that they will no longer be able to get a respectable job after their run. There are only a few simple rules for the run:
1. Stop at all stop signs. <--- very important
2. Pose for all pictures.
3. Attack only if attacked.
4. Glass only - no bricks or stuff.
5. Cover the most important part of your body - YOUR FACE!
As you can tell by the rules, the leaders of Baker 13 try to keep it fun, light-hearted, and good natured. In that regard, Baker 13 hosts a series of special runs thoughout the year:
August 31st - The Freshman Run
October 31st - The Halloween Run (The most popular run)
Novemver 26th - The Thanksgiving Run
December 13th - The Christmas Run (Runners wear Santa hats)
February 13th - The Valentine's Day Run
April 26th - The Senior Run
May 13th - The Bonus Run (only run if school is still in session)
Baker 13 is an essential part of Rice's public image and has marked several historic Rice events. In 2002, as a precursor to the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, the Olympic torch passed through Houston and Rice University. While it passed through the Rice campus, two Baker 13ers (who remained anonymous thanks to rule #5) ran in front of it. On April 26, 2008, Baker 13 officially christened the newly opened Brochstein Pavillion, which boasted 4 walls of glass. In protest of the new Dirk's Coffee in the pavillion and in respect for the student-run Coffee House on campus, the students shouted "This is for Coffee House!" as they fully covered each wall with body prints.

BakerShake: An older tradition at Baker is the spring Shakespeare play. Fondly known as Bakershake, the annual play has been presented since 1970, since its founding by students Charles Becker and Ed Dickinson. Associated with the play, is an annual dinner, The Feast, where Baker and Jones seniors are invited to bring a guest to a Renaissance meal. In typical Renaissance fashion, there are no utensils, but plenty of wine. In later years, a Renaissance festival was added the weekend before the start of the play.

Baker Feast: It is rumored to be a party.

Upper/Lower Fourth: Another great Baker "tradition" is that of 4th Entrance, the college's prime gathering spot and watering hole. According to some, 4th Entrance attained its infamy and notoriety as a hotspot of excess alcohol consumption merely by chance, due to its position just one flight of stairs above the room where all the compulsory beer-pong tables were kept. When this venue was turned into what is now a quiet, carpeted study room, the beer-pong tables had to be put somewhere else. And due to the laziness of the Baker residents at the time, the most obvious place was just a flight up. And so, the residents of 4th Entrance that fateful year were bestowed the honor of being responsible for practically every social event of the year.
Nowadays, a group of 8 freshmen is picked every year to maintain the 4th Entrance spirit on the first floor (affectionately referred to as Lower 4th), and a group of 8 upperclassmen who can guide them along the road of debauchery is picked to live right above, in Upper 4th. And so, the legend of 4th Entrance lives on, despite vigorous efforts on the part of university administration and campus police. For now, at least.

Baker Blues/Prom Party: Just like all the other colleges, Baker holds public parties during the year. Baker Blues is held in the fall semester and is a unique party with a hired blues band, dancing, cigars, and otherwise bluesy/classy behavior. Prom Party is a throwback to the glorious epoch known as the 1990s and is held in the spring of each school year. The commons is decorated for Baker High School Prom where attendees proceed to dance the night away.

The Origin of "The College from Hell"

Over time, each college at Rice has acquired a distinctive personality, transcending the changing personalities of each matriculating class. Baker is known as the College from Hell. At rallies and college competitions, Bakerites frequently chant, "We're from Hell, we're from Baker!". During Beer Bike (a major Rice tradition), Bakerites can always be identified by their red shirts, red face paint, and red hair, as well as by their overwhelming college spirit.

Baker college was not always the college from Hell, however. According to Dr. Charles Philpott, a former Baker Master (1968-73) and Resident Associate, this title originated from a jack by Jones College. For the Beer Bike parade (in 1988 or 1989), Steve Carmichael (1991), a talented mechanical engineer, and Henry Hwong (1990), purchased a run-down 60's-era Pontiac at a local Houston junkyard for $50. After a number of hours, Steve managed to get the car started, and, with Henry sometimes bumping the vehicle with his own car when the junker stalled at a few stoplights to do a rolling start, was able to drive it to the Baker quad.

After Steve pulled an overnighter to get the car parade-worthy (and become a Jones quad-trenching machine), a team of Bakerites transformed it into a convertible, painting it with spirited red stripes. On the eve of Beer Bike, some rival Jonesians vandalized the car by covering it in orange paint. This jack was deeply humiliating and highly intolerable to loyal Bakerites (red has been Baker's color since inception). Frantically, Bakerites worked to recover their car's original coloration, but the orange paint would not come off! Baker's ingenuity and creativity saved the day: by the time the parade began, the red striped car had become a fearsome, fiery machine. Baker led the parade with its flaming car, amid what the other colleges intended as insults. Baker embraces its title as the "College from Hell" and is now respected as such.

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