Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
|The Jam, or Jamming, was an undergraduate tradition begun as early as 1905. It was part of the annual banquet season, during which the freshman and sophomore classes each held banquets as a way of celebrating class spirit. Jamming involved kidnapping members of the other class to prevent attendance at its banquet, thereby preventing the success of that class's banquet. Jams and the banquets associated with them were part of a complex tradition of freshman-sophomore class rivalry, which culminated in an annual football game between the two classes during which the class that had amassed the most points in the various informal competitions was able to demonstrate its greater class spirit through the display of its class flags.|
The banquets were a competitive event moderated by Sword and Shield, the sophomore honor society and designated keeper of Tufts traditions. In order to hold a successful banquet, each class would have to comply with criteria set by Sword and Shield governing attendance, such as that a certain percentage of the class had to attend, or particular officeholders had to be present. Failure to meet these criteria meant that the banquet was declared to have "fizzled" and that class bore the stigma of failing to demonstrate proper spirit.
Jamming began when members of one class would kidnap their counterparts in the other class to prevent their attendance at the banquet, in order to cause the other class's banquet to fail. Victims would be ambushed, tackled, and hog-tied, usually with a jump rope, and then held until after the banquet had begun, threatening its success.
Though criteria governing successful banquets were set by Sword and Shield, the events and associated Jams were policed by Tower Cross, the senior honor society.
If the freshman class won, the rule requiring wearing of class beanies was suspended temporarily. If the sophomores won, freshman were forced to wear their beanies inside out on designated days, as a mark of their failure.
The Tufts Weekly continued to record kidnapping incidents through the 1930s. By 1947, many of the freshman traditions and practices had become obsolete, and in 1952, Sword and Shield moved to eliminate several of the traditions, including most freshman-oriented hazing activities.
Source: TW, October 26, 1905, October 27, 1920, October 12, 1921, May 18, 1952, October 12, 1927