Superstition, Folklore, and History at Cal

UC Berkeley is considered by many to be the best public university in the world. As the first college in the University of California system, Cal has decades of superstition, folklore, and history that still exist today.

1. Stepping on a university seal will ruin your GPA

There are three university seals on campus, right next to Memorial Glade. If you step on any one of them, you will ruin your chances of ever getting a 4.0 GPA.

One of the seals near Memorial Glade

One of the seals near Memorial Glade

However, if you immediately run to and kiss the stone ball in front of the Campanile, you will save your academic fate.

4.0 ball near the Campanile

4.0 ball near the Campanile

No one really knows how this tradition of avoiding the seals began, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

2. Pappy and the Nymph

Pappy Waldorf, a beloved Cal football coach, is memorialized on campus through a statue near Stephens Hall, which sits right across from the bronze statue of a wood nymph.

After some disappointing losses in the early 2000s, the Rally Committee realized that Pappy’s spirit wasn’t concentrating on the game because he was distracted by the beautiful nymph. They began to blindfold Pappy during home games, so that he could focus on winning, and this ritual continues today!

3. A dog received a Cal degree

This is a true story – in the 1970s, there was a Labrador-Beagle-Husky mix named Igor Fetch, who lived in Bowles Hall. Now, the residents of Bowles Hall, who liked to call themselves Bowlesmen, were known for their pranks, and one of the more famous ones was registering Igor for class.

Igor Fetch, one of Cal's finest alumni

Igor Fetch, one of Cal’s finest alumni

His owner took his exams, made sure that Igor got a senior picture in the school yearbook, and Igor Fetch eventually earned his degree in sociology from UC Berkeley. Today, you can still visit his grave, and the granite marker reads, “Igor Fetch, 1972-1976, a True Bowlesman and Friend”.

Do you have any favorite superstitions? Let us know in the comments below!

About Loyalty Traster-Lee

Loyalty Traster-Lee was a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in anthropology. She was born and raised in Long Beach, California, but has traveled extensively, including attending kindergarten in Singapore, volunteering with the Lions Club in Germany, and studying abroad in England. Loyalty's favourite Berkeley sights include the Botanical Gardens and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which, for the record, are both within walking distance of each other and free with student identification. Loyalty graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2019, but considers living at I-House to be one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience.
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