I hope to fuck this article gets printed in red ink, not just to throw the whole contrast off in this fortnightly publication, but to remind you that redder is better!
My name is Keith Onderisin and your EngSoc President was foolish enough to let us compete in your SCUNT! So one thing has led to another, and here I am: a voice inside your head that’s able to string together these objectively unrelated and meaningless words into a cohesive story about McMaster University’s Redsuits.
While I could have written about anything else, the primary reason I am writing this, and why McMaster Engineering is competing in your SCUNT, is to fortify the bond between our schools. To enjoy each other’s company now and for the future, and to preserve and spread engineering history and traditions in Ontario.
With respect to McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering, the Redsuits are one of the longest standing traditions there is. The inception of the Redsuits came in 1985, where the first Orientation Chairman of the MES, a student by the name of Mark Huttram, dreamed of a group of boisterous engineering students that would dominate the landscape of McMaster campus. He interviewed a group of students, and of those only chose unquestionable leaders in the engineering community to lead the incoming frosh.
At the same time, the MES President Mike Kukhta, who would then go on to become the MSU President the following year, was working away to institute a pub-crawl as an official Frosh Week event. After consulting McMaster security and the local police, it was determined that with a parade permit and a visible group of individuals to control situations that might get out of hand, the pub-crawl could take place. Coupling the two initiatives, it was with this that the McMaster “Frosh Controllers” were born, and if you have the chance to meet any Redsuits, you will see the tradition enduring in the form of yearly Frosh Controller patches from when they were selected to be a Frosh Week Representative. It should also be added that Engineering began the tradition of Frosh Week coveralls and jumpsuits at McMaster, where now every faculty and residence has its own distinctive color or appearance.
Getting into the thick of Redsuit culture now, is one thing of note: McMaster Engineering’s unique choice of red as their color to represent their faculty. Typically purple is recognized by schools across Canada to represent Engineering, easy examples in Ontario being here at Waterloo, but also at schools like Carleton, U of T, Ryerson, and Windsor. Word has it that McMaster engineering students once tried to dye themselves red, but the results were…rather devilish.
Moving on to another unique aspect of Redsuit culture is the selection process. As of right now, McMaster is one of the few schools where students cannot just purchase their own suit, but must apply and be chosen based on the merit of their leadership credentials and creativity. Tryout season typically begins around the end of January, and recently there has developed an annual prank on campus to signify the beginning of Tryout Season. Students form groups to organize their own pranks, or otherwise creative elements to present before the ‘Committee’, who then decides the Rep team for the upcoming Frosh Week. Students must re-apply every year to rep for Frosh Week. However, when a student receives their suit they are now part of the Redsuit community for life. The Redsuit community aims to retain members year to year, and to be able to give new opportunities to students that have demonstrated their involvement in the community.
Another way McMaster stands out is its choice of mascot. Although schools typically choose inanimate objects, like the Tool here at Waterloo, the Ram at Ryerson, or the Gong at Carleton, McMaster is represented by its Super Plumber and Wonder Plumber. Originally the Super Plumber was chosen as one who was known as brash and brazen among his peers, and otherwise someone who had the connections to help his group of buddies have a good time. Wonder Plumber came sometime after in the 80’s, and is known to be the responsible counterpart to save the day when Super Plumber is slacking off. Both are symbols of McMaster Engineering’s devotion to being the loudest, proudest, and craziest faculty on campus, and both are on the front line of almost every Frosh Week activity the Redsuits organize. Super Plumber’s founding goes back to the late 1960’s, the etymology of which stems from Engineering’s connection to its military past.
On the topic of Frosh Week, one notable event Redsuits organize and participate in during the week is Bus Pull, which happens every Frosh Week and is led by the original Super Plumber, Romeo Palombella (and let me tell you, this is a man who can tell you a thing or two about the olden days). This event involves both Redsuits and Frosh taking a turn to pull an HSR (Hamilton Street Railway) double-bus each halfway around a predetermined route in downtown Hamilton. This visual spectacle commands police supervision to cordon off sections of Hamilton’s streets, and its main focus is to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis through the Shinerama campaign.
Another notable event organized is Santa Hog, where students go from class to class singing Engineering themed Christmas carols to de-stress before exams, bring cheer to students, wreak a little havoc, but primarily raise money from students to donate to the Women’s Interval House in Hamilton. Over the years Santa has been selected among both men and women, with last year being the first year to feature a Santa and a Mrs. Claus.
Although there are many other traditions and deeper explanations as to why we do what we do, these are the big ones that can give you a glimpse into what the Redsuits represent. First and foremost, it is the Engineering student body at McMaster University. Outside of that, we are a community of students that are unmatched in our pride and notoriety on McMaster campus. No other faculty can boast the type of involvement we provide for students and for alumni like we do. With that being said, if you have made it out this far, thanks for coming out – mwah!
Note: Thank god to old Frequency archives and somewhat helpful, if not blatantly subjective ESSCO articles. Not to mention, some Dirty Old Men: Eau de Cum & Flaming Commie-kaze