The Senior Steps are a tradition at Bryn Mawr. I mean, they’re an actual, physical set of stairs at Bryn Mawr (the ones underneath the Taylor Tower) — not just the abstract concept that “tradition” might bring to mind — but they’re so much more than mere steps.
At Bryn Mawr, one of the traditions is that students can’t use the senior steps until their senior year. Tradition has it that if someone stands on the Senior Steps before their senior year, they won’t graduate (of course, an offering to the statue of Athena in Thomas Great Hall can take care of that). It’s not really much of a hardship — there are three other sets of steps — but it adds to the specialness of being a senior.
The Senior Steps are symbolic of being a senior at Bryn Mawr College. On May Day (one of our biggest Traditions), after the Step Sing, juniors become seniors when they “rush” the Senior Steps. From then on, they are technically considered seniors and are allowed all of the perks of a senior (among other things, being able to Anass, being able to walk down Senior Row, and, of course, being able to stand on the Senior Steps).
Standing on the Senior Steps means being a senior. It means having survived your first three years. It means being able to Anass. It means leading the Step Sings (which center around the Steps, which is where you’re finally sitting). It means singing “Bread and Roses.” It means the fulfillment of (almost — there’s still graduation) everything for which you’ve been working so hard.
My last semester at Bryn Mawr, I had a three-hour philosophy class in Taylor. No matter how tired I was, how much I didn’t really want to philosophize for three hours, going up the Senior Steps always put a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.