I promised you to speak about Praxes in the article of Harry Potter. Before going any further, I want to say that I am totally against what students do in “Praxe”. But, as always, I will be totally unbiased to talk about this issue. Please have your own opinions in the end of this article.
“Praxe” is a freshman initiation ritual. September is a special month for university students in Portugal. The freshman will enter the university and they will be faced with a decision. “Should I go to Praxes or not?”. The ritual might be very different from city to city. In Leiria is very common to do push-ups and play with others, while you are in command of “trajados” (students with the black outfit). The reason why this practices are not very well accepted by the population is because of the deaths and violence that happened during these rituals. You can check here a history of violence during these rituals.
What is the Hierarchy?
According to the “Praxe” code there are eight important roles:
- Caloiro (Freshman): Every student who enters the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria for the first time;
- Bestas (Beasts): Every student is considered a beast before the baptism;
- Retardados (Retarded): Every student who entered the school in the second or third phase;
- Corvos (Crows): Every student that wear the “traje” (black outfit) after the baptism;
- Semi-doutores (Semi-doctors): Every student who is in the second tuition;
- Doutores (Doctors): Every student who is in the third tuition;
- Veteranos (Veterans): Every student who didn’t finish their degree in the normal amount of time (for undergraduate it’s 3 years, normally);
- Carrascolum Elipticum: The veteran elected by the school organization who regulates the “Praxe”.
- Real D.Dinis: The highest hierarchy. This veteran is elected by an organization who regulates the “Praxe”.
Every student is allowed to use the “traje académico” since the baptism. A “trajado” can only organize and do “Praxe” activities after he is purified. The purification ritual happens in their second year. In this ritual they purify their degree “Pompom”.
What is expected by the freshman?
The freshman can only look down because they are told the “world is between their feet”. The freshman will have their face covered in lipstick or nail polish and they are told not to speak with each other. If a student lacks respect from a “trajado”, everyone will be punished doing push-ups or any other physical activity.
What does it defend, and why people participate?
“Trajados” will say that “Praxe” is to integrate the student into their degree. The freshman will go to “Praxes” afraid that, if he doesn’t do so, he will be marginalized by their colleagues. It’s very strange that a student will be integrated into a group if he can’t speak, talk or do anything regarding his free will.
What is the “Praxe” code?
The “Praxe” code is the code that regulates these activities in school, and out of it. Every student needs to know this code and needs to obey the rules it has. Important things to know:
- The hierarchy: We already talked about this;
- Locations where they can do “Praxe” activities: Most commonly they can only do these activities if they don’t have a ceiling above them;
- Godparents: The freshman can only have one Godfather and Godmother designated by him (some freshman have 3 or 4 Godparents, it’s not a rule they enforce);
- “Praxe” calendar: These activities start at the beginning of classes and end 7 weeks later (normally on the Wednesday of freshman week, with the baptism). The first two weeks they have activities every day from 8am till 8pm, normally. Then the activities continue in the second semester till the freshman can wear the “traje académico”.
Can I wear a black outfit without going to these rituals?
Yes. Most students think they have to go to “Praxe” so that they can wear this outfit, but that is not true. Every student can use the academic outfit beginning the second semester of their first year. Prices range from 150€ to 200€ for trousers/skirt, jacket, cape and a shirt.
Schools recently started to tighten their policy regarding these kinds of traditions. I personally believe the pressure started after six people died in 2013 on a beach during “Praxe”. Nowadays schools are enforcing that “Praxe” is not mandatory and you can skip if you want.
During Erasmus, if you want you can experience a little experience of “Praxe”. You can get out at any moment (like any other student) and you have the right to say no if you want. Every “Praxe” is different and everyone has a different feeling about it. Some can take it, some will have fun doing it, but also the same will hate it and go away. Everyone is different and we need to accept our differences.