Have you heard that rumor where if your roommate dies you get a 4.0 GPA? Or that if you get hit by a car at school, the college will cover your tuition? So have most of us. But do you believe these legends?
All colleges have urban legends. Academia folklore is so prominent that there is a section of Snopes dedicated entirely to it.
“For many of us, the college experience is our first encounter with urban legends,” reads the introduction to the Snopes section. “Young men and women living away from home for the first time are particularly susceptible to legends that play on the unease and fear of life in a strange, new environment among unfamiliar surroundings.”
In one of the collegiate Snopes entries, a psychic predicted on a popular television talk show that a mass murder would take place on Halloween at a college campus (it was false). In another, a building at a college was odd-looking because the builder read the plans wrong and erected it backwards (a legend).
Rowan University has its own share of folklore, so in the last Word on the Street, reporter Geneva Gerwitz asked students rumors they’ve heard about the school. I also asked students on one of Rowan’s class Facebook pages and included ones that I have heard on campus.
We then asked Vice President for University Relations Dr. Jose Cardona, a 1989 Rowan alumni who began working here in 1995, to help solve these rumors.
RUMOR: “If your roommate dies, then you get a 4.0 GPA.” – Sean Fitzpatrick, junior computer science major
FALSE: “Otherwise we would have a lot of dead roommates,” Cardona said.
Snopes also disproved this. “No college or university in the United States has a policy awarding a 4.0 average (or anything else) to a student whose roommate dies,” the Snopes entry reads.
This rumor dates from approximately the mid 1970s. In some versions, the student gets the 4.0 if the roommate specifically commits suicide or is murdered.
A similar rumor: “If someone dies in a final, everyone gets an A.” – Heard from several sources
FALSE: “There would be a lot of mysterious deaths around finals,” Cardona said.
RUMOR: “I heard that there’s a ghost in Wilson and I actually heard that from my high school teacher that went here and I think it’s true.” – Devon Dyer, sophomore music industry major
LEGEND: “The ghost of Elizabeth Tohill has been said to roam Tohill Theatre, so they say,” Cardona said.
Rumors of paranormal activity in Bunce Hall have been told for decades, according to Rowan Today. Students reported doors locking by themselves, and feeling something grabbing at their legs in the building that opened in 1923.
However, Wilson Hall opened in about 1970. A comment on Rowan’s page on hauntedplaces.org by Ben Schwartz in 2014 reads, “At Wilson, I was going through a door in the second floor hallway and as the door was closing, it sounded like a girl said, ‘Is anybody there?’ in a high pitched voice. I was the only one around.”
RUMOR: “That it was kind of a party school.” – Jonathan Zitaglio, freshman computer science major
TRUE: “Back in the ‘80s, then-Glassboro State College hosted large outdoor concerts called ‘Spring Fling,'” said Cardona, who started college in 1985. “Some of the more famous acts included Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys.
“It was after the Beastie Boys concert and the out of control after-party at the Crossings Apartments in spring 1986 that put us, perhaps undeservingly, on Playboy’s Top 25 Party Schools list in 1987.
“The campus has been calm ever since,” he added.
RUMOR: “The engineering buildings are sinking at different rates.” – Steve Solkela, sophomore, music major
FALSE: “That rumor has been around since the day it was open. The building is not sinking,” Cardona assured.
One legend that Snopes proved false said that a college library was sinking into the ground because its architect failed to take the weight of the books into account. Apparently it is a widespread belief at colleges, but perhaps Rowan’s School of Engineering earned the rumor because it is a newer building.
RUMOR: “We’re expanding faster than we’re ready for, so we have a lot of kids coming in but we really don’t have the space to take care of everyone right now.” – Anyssa Sanchez, senior health exercise science major
TRUE AND FALSE: “We have more room to grow, but we now have to be more deliberate about how to grow,” Cardona said.
“The construction of the new buildings for business and engineering allowed for the doubling of enrollment in those programs,” he continued. “We just completed an expansion of our Camden Academic Building, which will allow us to double enrollment there as well.
“We are also adding classrooms in the new buildings being constructed on Rowan Boulevard. Where we are tight at the moment is lab space, hence the use of them all day and some on Saturdays,” he said.
RUMOR: “There’s a swimming pool on the top floor of the library.” – Chris Razze, chemical engineering major
FALSE: “No pool, but that would definitely be cool,” Cardona said.
The only known pool on campus is in the Recreation Center. The top floor of the library houses The RCA Heritage Museum, which contains memorabilia from RCA Records, a company with South Jersey history whose factory was in Camden.
RUMOR: “If you get hit by a car, you get free tuition.” – Heard from several sources
FALSE: “No, otherwise we would have a lot of people jumping in front of cars on Route 322,” Cardona said.
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