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Legend of the Pink Tie

A long time ago in a land not so far away, a mathematician had a vision. He dreamed of a place where mathies could roam free, uninhibited by societal pressures to study Faculties of Arts or Science. He dreamed of a separate Faculty of Mathematics. And he chose Waterloo to realize his dream.

Professor Ralph Stanton (1923-2010), the visionary behind the Faculty, also dreamed of ties. Striped ties. Dotted ties. 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 to worship the tie and all it symbolizes.

Unfortunately, the pink tie has been subject to sabotage and kidnapping over the years. A ruthless terrorist sect formed, calling itself The Tie Liberation Organization (TLO). The TLO stole the math's icon in 1984 and travelled across Ontario, snapping photos of the famous pink fabric in such exotic locations as Sudbury, Ottawa, and Toronto.

A new tie - 40-feet long and 11-feet wide - was promptly purchased when it became obvious that the TLO would not return the original. This purchase cost the Mathematics Society (MathSoc) $540.35.

The second pink tie was not stolen, but rather destroyed during an Engineering-induced attack in 1986. The enemy engineers launched a barrage of paint bombs at MC, covering the pink tie with gallons of white paint. Yet another tie was purchased in 1998 and mathies swore it wouldn't be destroyed again.

Thus, the Tie Guard came to be. These intelligent, courageous, and loyal subjects have a specific job: to protect the sacred pink tie. Pink Tie Preservationist, Marco Koechli, a UWaterloo Mathematics graduate, established the first Tie Guard by organizing a 24-hour watch during Orientation Week. Rival faculties and terrorist organizations were no match for the Tie Guard and the pink tie miraculously survived. The Tie Guard is now a permanent fixture every Orientation Week and has evolved into a central information point for incoming math students.

That tie lasted more than 20 years until heavy rain and a windstorm in 2010 proved to be more than the Tie could withstand. In 2011, with the opening of Mathematics 3, a brand new tie got a brand new home. Urban legend has it that should this tie be lost or damaged it will not be replaced.

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.)

Since 1968, the pink tie has become 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 UWaterloo currently has the world's highest full-time enrollment in mathematics. UWaterloo students, staff, and faculty members alike are proud of the Faculty and especially the Legend of the Pink Tie. Long live the Tie Guard!