CANES students take the jump in Polar Plunge 2015

On February 21, 2015, the high temperature on Madison’s Willow Island was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and people were going swimming. It was the Madison Polar Plunge, and teams had raised money for the Wisconsin Special Olympics in exchange for the privilege of diving into water which was covered in ice just the previous day. The crowd of hula dancers, ninjas, and other sights raised $236,500, but standing out in their ancient garb was a team of graduate students from the Classical and Near Eastern Studies (CANES) Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After raising over $500, Jason Hansen, Molly Harris, and Rebecca Boylan donned blankets, cut pizza boxes, tin foil, and a curtain rod to bring the Roman gods of the Capitoline Triad – Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva – back to life. As fellow grad students cheered them on, the three plunged into the icy waters before sprinting to ready hot tubs where trembling limbs regained feeling. Once the looks of shock and horror subsided, all three burst into laughter and wide smiles as each compared his or her individual sensations of cold.
This was the second year CANES graduate students made an appearance at the Plunge. In 2014, a group of five were inspired by the “Jason and the Argonauts” myth when they took the dive dressed as various Greek heroes. After the spectators witnessed the plunge and heard the testimonies of the plungers, several eagerly pledged to dive in 2016 ensuring that the new tradition will continue to bring CANES graduate students together.