From theater ghosts to good luck charms to sculptures that can cause students to fail college, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a variety of campus legends that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Peyton Taylor, a senior psychology major and former New Student Enrollment leader, would stop at popular locations on campus while doing tours to show what the university has to offer to new students.
Taylor said that there would be times that she would bring up the traditions like rubbing Archie’s foot, the mammoth statue outside of the University of Nebraska History Museum, before one takes a midterm for good luck. It was said to be a way to connect with families on the tour.
Another legend involves Richard Serra’s “Greenpoint,” also known as the “parenthesis statue” between the Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons and Mueller Tower, the bell tower. Taylor said she would bring up the legend during tours that claims anyone who walks through the space between the two pieces of the sculpture will fail to graduate if they don’t touch Archie’s foot in the 30 seconds following as an interesting story to keep people engaged.
“We were never taught it. It’s just something that, I think, you kind of inherit when you’re on campus,” Taylor said.
Assistant Director of Campus Visits, Sara Smith, accounts of some other well known myths that float around campus.
The recently removed “Kissing Columns” were said to fall if any girl graduates and fails to be kissed. Also, Mark di Suvero’s statue, “Old Glory,” is better known as the red sculpture that has all the letters of the alphabet hidden in it.
However, that belief is false, according to Smith. In reality, the statue is meant to symbolize the American flag. The sculpture itself is the red; the blue is the sky, and the white is the clouds.
Maggie Nielsen, a senior German and advertising and public relations major, grew up hearing stories of ghosts on the UNL campus from her mother. She had attended UNL for theater and costume design and told Nielsen stories about the “theater ghost” that lived in the Temple Building.
Once Nielsen came to UNL after transferring from another college, she started to hear stories of another ghost in Oldfather from other students. A peer made a joke that if their test went poorly they would go to Oldfather, and another stated that is how the Oldfather ghost came to be.
“The rumor is that he is a former philosophy professor, and when I’ve been to the philosophy department area, which is now in Louise Pound Hall, I’m like ‘Why are we here?’” Nielsen said.
“I’ve studied so many cultures [and] so many languages, and there’s always this huge importance of folklore and word of mouth stories over written stories, and this is ours. It’s so important to keep those alive,” Nielsen said.