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Spring Scream at Columbia

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Soterios Johnson sends an audio postcard from the campus of Columbia University in New York, where students worked off a little pre-exam stress with a lot of noise last night.


To New York City now and reporter Soterios Johnson, who tells us that in one neighborhood, the sound of spring is unmistakable.

(Soundbite of students screaming)


It's called primal scream. And like the return of the swallows to Capistrano each spring, it happens like clockwork; in this case, at midnight the Sunday night of finals week at Columbia University in Morningside Heights.

(Soundbite of students screaming)

JOHNSON: This time of year, students are full of hope because the end is near and are full of stress because, well, the end is near.

Mr. DORON KENTER (Senior, Columbia University): Screaming is always good, especially during finals, like a bonding activity.

JOHNSON: Columbia senior Doron Kenter.

(Soundbite of students screaming)

JOHNSON: It's not really clear when the tradition started, but Columbia students have been screaming for decades. Robert von Gutfeld has been a Morningside Heights resident for a half-century.

Mr. ROBERT VON GUTFELD (Morningside Heights Residents): No, I don't mind the screaming. Occasionally, it's awakened me and I wonder if they're being raped or skewered. All right? But then it's Columbia.

(Soundbite of students screaming)

JOHNSON: Within five minutes, it's all over, the neighborhood's usual tranquility restored, at least until finals week in December. For NPR News, I'm Soterios Johnson in New York.

ROBERT SIEGEL (Host): This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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