The tales and myths of campus lore

By James Keller

Myths and folklore are part of any institution or community and the University of Calgary is no exception. In a history that spans almost 40 years, it would be surprising if no myths or folklore had developed. And although there’s no Big Foot crawling in the depths of engineering, campus lore tells the tales of horses and naked women, among other things.

So, lets get straight to the naked women, shall we?

The engineers, who at times appear to be part of some strange and far off lore themselves, used to annually parade a naked women around campus on a horse. Bestiality jokes aside, Lady Godiva was a tried and true tradition of the now marginalized faculty to the north. Why it stopped isn’t exactly certain. Chaffing and allergies are suspected.

The engineers have also been suspected but never conclusively connected to the dismantling of the Zipper, the obscure, metal sculpture in the center of Science Theatres. An especially interesting engineer scheme was the creation of Joe Pillar, an entirely fake student. He attended classes, wrote exams and almost graduated. Unfortunately, after almost four years, the university administration caught wind of it and put a stop to the whole thing. Even stranger though was the fact that these engineers were willing to put up tuition money and take exams for Joe, something some students can’t even do for themselves.

While engineers meddle and make nude women ride horses, the Social Science department has its own type of expression–Leon the Frog. Covering every step up the east staircase of the Social Science building is a poem about a curious frog named Leon and his adventures. Although no one really knows who made the effort to transcribe it, it’s been restored by–surprise, surprise–the engineers.

The U of C also had a unique fixation with mascots. Twice, students on campus have been involved with the acquisition of opposing school mascots. First, a group of Dinos drove up to the University of Alberta in Edmonton in the ’60s and stole the Golden Bears’ mascot–a live bear cub.

Other myths on campus include the existence of a bowling alley a number of years ago in the sublevels of Mac Hall and underground tunnels connecting all the buildings on campus. While little is known about the bowling alley, its life, or when and why it was closed, there are many theories as to the demise of the tunnels. From fear of electrocution from protruding wires to student suicides, these tunnels are still a point of contention–one that U of C administration is apparently keen on keeping secret.

Lastly, and most unsubstantiated of all campus folklore, is the existence of a secret sex society at the U of C. The current status of this society is unknown, but rumour has it that to become a member, one had to engage in sexual activities in 15 different places on campus. These included such non-discreet locations as below the Prairie Chicken, and had to be performed at specific times ranging from the wee hours of the morning to the middle of the afternoon. Again, this is all that is known about the society, but anyone with more information is welcome to come forward.

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