Eastern’s Newest Eagles ‘Pass Through the Pillars’

Led by the Eagle Marching Band’s drum corps and flanked by cheering faculty, staff and Greek Life members, hundreds of freshman students on Tuesday “passed through” EWU’s iconic Herculean Pillars to begin their university careers.

The annual event, one of Eastern’s oldest traditions, recreates the path generations of students once took from Cheney’s downtown train depot to their new collegiate homes. These days, their belongings safely stowed in residence halls, the newly arrived Eagles were encumbered only by red and white pom-poms and complimentary bar-b-que.

“I’m excited for what’s to come,” said Alana Zamora, an incoming biology major from Tri-Cities, right before she began the walk. 

This event, one of the many Welcome Week activities designed to help the freshman class seamlessly adapt to university life, represents more than just a symbolic start, said Keley Hatch-Brecek, Eastern’s director of alumni relations during her introductory remarks to participants. Constructed from granite that was salvaged from the ruins of EWU’s original Normal School building, the pillars powerfully represent the perseverance and resilience of the university and its students.

“For 107 years, these gates of knowledge, these Herculean Pillars have symbolized that the spirit of Eastern cannot be defeated,” Hatch-Brecek said.    

For the newly arrived members of the Class of 2026, however, the day’s focus was, understandably, mostly on the excitement of the here and now.

“It feels good to be here,” said Grace Grubaugh, an outdoor recreation major from Medical Lake, Washington. “I’ve been on campus the last couple days and doing all the welcome back activities and it’s been awesome!”

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