Green caps or "Beanies" | Webster University

Green caps or "Beanies"

The caps (also called "beanies") were introduced as part of freshmen orientation in the fall of 1942. They included the initials WC for "Webster College", the institution's name before it changed to Webster University in 1983.The color green, a departure from the original school colors of gold and white, may have been a continuation of a previous practice that required freshmen to wear green ribbons or large green hair bows in their hair.

 green cap

As part of orientation in the fall, each freshman was assigned a big sister, an older student who would help the new student get oriented to the college. At a ceremony during orientation, the big sister would place a green cap on the head of her assigned freshman, a ritual known as "capping".


script from a capping ceremony in the late 1950s provides insight into the symbolism of the cap. The cap was said to represent "a new phase of your student life" and was "symbolic of freshness and fertility, of the new ideas, outlooks, and vitality which your class is bringing to us."


Freshmen wore their beanies until Halloween when they celebrated their removal (see "The Beanie Song").


The cap was not without controversy, and a heated debate on the tradition broke out in the fall of 1962. An editorial in the student newspaper referred to the custom of requiring freshmen to wear the beanie until Halloween as "a two-month period of purgatory." ("Freshman, where's your beanie?", 1962). A later newspaper issue contained several letters to the editor expressing a variety of views. ("Beefs on beanies", 1962).


It appears that Fall 1962 was the last time the beanies were used in freshmen orientation (K. Nickless, personal communication, March 10, 2016).


[freshmen receiving caps]




Beefs on beanies. (1962, November 9). The Web, vol. 39, no. 6, p. 3.

Freshman, where's your beanie? Senior, where's your common sense? (1962, October 26). The Web, vol. 39, no. 5, p. 2.

Freshmen present unique entertainment at initiation.(1933, October 11). The Web, vol. 10, no. 1, p. 3.

Young, Ann. (1942, November). Just among ourselves. The Lorettine, vol. 37, no. 1, pp. 25-26.