Kissing Rock

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Kissing Rock

Originally submitted by Lindsay Thompson, Drake University, December 17, 2010

Taken by Lindsay Thompson


The Kissing Rock is a tradition at Drake University that has been alive since 1898. The kissing rock, today, represents the place where the Chancellor's Elm once stood. The tree had to be cut down due to Dutch Elm disease in 1969. The Chancellor's Elm was the location where Chancellor Carpenter said, "Here, we will build our university," [1] referring to the beginning of Drake University. The rock was placed under the Chancellor's Elm by the graduating class of 1898 [2]. The kissing rock is located just east of the Old Main building.

Different Meanings

Provided by The Quax 1988

Numerous traditions have been attached to the rock. The original meaning behind the rock was that a freshman girl was officially considered a "coed" until she received a kiss on the kissing rock. A "coed" is a term used in the past to describe a girl that attended a coeduational college or university. As described by Vince Nelson, a previous Director of Alumni Relations, "When I was a student at Drake in the 1960's, supposedly if a guy and a gal were dating, and if they would kiss on the rock, they would eventually get married and live a life of happiness." It turned into a right of passage at Drake. From becoming a "coed" to bringing luck to your relationship, the tradition has now dwindled down to not being very well known on campus. When asking current Drake freshman Megan Fisher what she knew about the kissing rock, she gave the response, "I didn't even know there was a kissing rock. Where is it at?" When asking another current student, Paige Menze, about the kissing rock, she gave the response, "All I know about the kissing rock is it's by Old Main, and it was a spot during the scavenger hunt at Welcome Weekend before freshman year." As demonstrated, the kissing rock traditions have become a rarity among the students. It is now just a fact given by the Admissions office during campus tours [3].

Located on SE corner of Old Main. Photo taken by Lindsay Thompson


  • [1] History & Traditions. (2010). Drake University Undergraduate Admission Retrieved from
  • [2] The Kissing Rock: a scandalous- yet charming- tale from the good old days. (1988). The Quax, p. 33.
  • [3] Capron, Susan. (1987, October 9). Kissing rock tradition fades. Times Delphic, p. 8.