Almost as mysteriously as it disappeared 36 years ago, UW’s Faculty of Mathematics’ giant 85-foot Pink Tie has made a return.
The unofficial symbol for the faculty, the Pink Tie, first appeared outside the Mathematics and Computer Building, officially opened in 1968.
According to the Legend of the Pink Tie, the tie was the subject of sabotage and was eventually nicked in 1984, by an organization calling itself The ‘Tie Liberation Organization.’
“A gentleman reached out via our general info email address and said he found what appears to be a very large pink tie in his father’s basement,” Rose Penner, a manager in Waterloo’s Mathematics Society Office, said. “His father, who lived in London, passed away, and he had no idea how long the Pink Tie had been in the basement.”
However, the email sender’s brother, speaking under terms of anonymity, provided a bit more clarity on how the Pink Tie ended up in his family’s possession.
“My time at Waterloo was in the mid-to-late ’80s when the second and then the third Pink Ties were in use on the Math and Computer building,” read an email reply.
The second tie referenced in the email was a 40-foot by 11-foot replacement that was promptly purchased by the Mathematics Society after the first Pink Tie vanished. This second tie survived for less than two years before it was defaced with paint by a group dubbed ‘The Engineers’.
A third Pink Tie was put into use in 1989, displayed on the MC building during the Faculty’s orientation week.
“The Engineers never lost interest in the tie, and had even successfully “tie-napped” the third Pink Tie,” the Waterloo alumnus revealed. “This time, rather than damaging it, they kept it entertained, bringing it to certain social events and sending notes every few weeks. After a couple of months, it was returned unharmed.”
Following the tie’s return, the Faculty of Mathematics students established a Tie Guard, which kept 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.
The third tie lasted more than 20 years until heavy rain and a windstorm destroyed it in 2010.
“It was during these years that I was contacted by an individual who had stored the original cloth Pink Tie from the early days,” the Waterloo alumnus further disclosed. The damage to the tie, however, could not be repaired, and there were questions about whether the original tie could be preserved or should be cut into small souvenirs and handed out to students.
“Because preservation was in question, I held onto the tie at the time. It went into storage at my parents’ house, always intending to return it when conditions were favourable for preserving it as best as possible. In the past couple of years, my brother became the best conduit to return the original tie to Waterloo,” the alumnus said.
In 2011 the Faculty unveiled a fourth Pink Tie, which is displayed in the Mathematics 3 building each Orientation Week.
The Faculty of Mathematics Orientation team intends to display the original Pink Tie and incorporate it into future orientation events. Students and alumni are encouraged to submit fun ideas of how they would like to see this done.