Since 1968, the pink tie has been a sign of strength and unity in the Faculty of Mathematics. The Faculty was the first of its kind (having originally been part of the larger Faculty of Arts) and remains the lone dedicated Faculty of Mathematics in North America. Waterloo students, staff, and faculty members alike are proud of the Faculty and especially the Legend of the Pink Tie.
Professor Ralph Stanton (1923-2010), the visionary behind the Faculty, was a man of many ties. Striped ties. Dotted ones. He loved outlandish ties and his colleagues favoured his pink one. The pink tie soon came to be the unofficial symbol for Math at Waterloo.
When the Mathematics & Computer Building (MC) celebrated its official opening in 1968, a giant 85-foot pink tie appeared on the outside of the building as a tribute to Professor Stanton and his valued contributions. Every year, new Math students learn the history of the tie and all it symbolizes, and earn theirs by learning the Math Dance, and reciting the Pink Tie Pledge.
Unfortunately, the pink tie has been subject to sabotage and kidnapping over the years. Thus, the Tie Guard came to be. These intelligent, courageous, and loyal subjects have one job: to protect the sacred pink tie.
Pink Tie Preservationist Marco Koechli (a Waterloo Mathematics graduate) established the first Tie Guard, organizing a 24-hour watch during Orientation Week. The Tie Guard is now a permanent fixture every Orientation Week, and has evolved into a central information point for incoming math students.
Mathematics students take the legend of the pink tie very seriously and more than 1,000 pink ties are distributed during Orientation Week to new mathies. Over the years, the tie has seen various styles, ranging from an historical wide version popular in the '60s, to the skinny style favoured during the '80s. A collection of photos and pink tie memorabilia can be viewed in the MathSoc office.