Who wouldn’t want to be abruptly awaken by loud music at 7 am during finals week?
Caltech has an honor code–“No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community”–and we take it very seriously. This allows us to collaborate with one another effectively and have take-home exams, understanding that we won’t look at barred resources or take extra time. These take-home exams are often roughly four-hour long exams that are due at noon (though it varies depending on the class).
To ensure that our fellow moles are awake to take their finals and turn them in on time, we blast the Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner on our courtyard speakers at 7 am–five hours before noon–allowing someone to wake up, take their exam, and turn it in before it’s due. People also congregate in the courtyard together to hear the music together during the stress of finals week.
Now, because the Ride plays during finals week, we associate it with the terror and stress of exam season, and really wouldn’t like to hear it any other time (while we’re varying degrees of relaxed). Though, us moles like to prank one another and this can easily be achieved by playing the Ride next to an unsuspecting mole–inducing an adrenaline peak. The penalty for playing the Ride outside of finals week is getting “showered,” meaning, people run at you to turn off the Ride, and gently carry you to the nearest shower (with your consent). There, you place your head under the water and get yourself wet.
If you hear some trills and all of the moles near you disappear, you can safely assume that someone played the Ride of the Valkyries when they shouldn’t have.