The Whoosh: A Sign of Comet Spirit Has Become Campus Tradition

Aug. 20, 2012

 UT Dallas Whoosh

The Whoosh

It’s somewhat silly, somewhat celestial, and all about spirit. The Whoosh is UT Dallas students’ signature sign, an understood language between Comets.

The gesture honors the campus mascot, the comet. Several years ago, students sought a way to imitate the astronomical object and thus, the Whoosh was born.

Student Braden Herndon demonstrates how to properly perform the Whoosh in this playful video.

Invented in the early 1990s, the Whoosh has become a way for UT Dallas students to show campus unity. The University began teaching the Whoosh at new student orientation in 2005 and it is now embraced as the symbolic gesture for all students and alumni.

The salute is named the Whoosh because “it’s the sound a comet would make if there was sound in space,” said Daniel Long, assistant director for new student programs.

Students do the Whoosh at athletic events or other gatherings where they hear “U-T-D!” or their graduation year, such as “The Class of 2016!”

It’s not uncommon for students and alums to send photos of themselves doing the Whoosh from locations around the world.

How to Whoosh

  1. Make a fist with your left hand and put it in front of your mouth.

  2. Then extend your right arm out and slightly upward, with palm down and fingers extended. “It should look like the tail of a comet that slowly fades away,” Long said.

  3. Finally, give a quick lean to the left, and belt out a big “WHOOSH!” “Of course, the lean is important,” Long said. “It’s the apex of the Whoosh. It gives it motion. ”

How not to Whoosh

UT Dallas Whoosh 
Incoming students now learn how to do the "Whoosh" during orientation. 

Long said he has seen enough variations on doing the Whoosh around campus – extending the comet tail to the left instead of the right, for instance, or making a fist at the end of the tail – that he convened an informal “Whoosh Commission” this year to define standards.  

Incoming freshmen learn how to do the Whoosh during Freshman Orientation.

How do students respond?

“They love it,” Long said. “They even have whooshing competitions to see who can do it the best.”

Besides giving students a common shared experience, the Whoosh is quirky enough to make it popular.

“It’s just funny,” Long said.

UT Dallas Mini-whoosh

The Mini-Whoosh provides a more subtle way to express solidarity with fellow students.

The Mini-Whoosh

The Mini-Whoosh is a quick way to show campus spirit and solidarity with other students without drawing too much attention.

It resembles a tiny shooting comet, and it’s designed for those times when you are unable to do the full Whoosh or just need a more subtle version -- when you’re driving a car, greeting a friend in the hallway or celebrating in class that you’ve passed a test.  

The Mini Whoosh is similar to making the “OK” symbol, with thumb and first finger making the “O,” but with the other three fingers extended horizontally above the “O” to represent the tail of the comet.


Media Contact: Robin Russell, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, robin.russell@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu.
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