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May 30 2018
by Emily McKeon

4 Superstitions at Drexel University

By Emily McKeon - May 30 2018

Welcome to Philadelphia. Home of the cheesesteak, the Super Bowl LII champions and Drexel University. While this may not be a university that nearly every little boy or girl dreams of attending, it is considered a gem to those who have the fortune of attending one of the fastest expanding universities in the country. Despite Drexel’s rather young age of 127, the legends have mounted over the years. Here are four superstitions that every Drexel student will certainly encounter.

1. The Drexel Shaft Will Get You

Wikimedia Commons

This rather strange legend began with “The Flame of Knowledge,” a water fountain originally located in the quad near Drexel’s Main Building. This fountain came to symbolize the lack of communication between students and faculty, as well as the rocketing tuition costs. This fountain was eventually the subject of a senior prank gone wrong: students planned to fill the fountain with Jello, only to realize that it was drained by order of the administration. The university decided to move “The Flame of Knowledge” to a less visible spot on campus in front of a residence hall. Students revolted and chose a much more visible target: a smokestack in the trainyard adjacent to the campus. For years, this superstition of the Drexel Shaft having an effect on every student’s life became a source of frustration for Drexel administration. Eventually, in 2009, the smokestack was demolished. Despite all of the work to rid the university of this legend, the Drexel Shaft has been returned to its original home in “The Flame of Knowledge.”

2. Rub My Toe

Wikimedia Commons

Keeping on the roll of strange legends, here is one with a pretty amazing history. Frédéric-August Bartholdi, the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty, sculpted a young boy sitting with his legs crossed with a cask raised above his head as if he is about to take a drink. Originally, it was a fountain, but to preserve the statue it was covered in aged patina. Before exams, students pass the statue and rub the toe for good luck, effectively turning the boy’s foot bronze.

3. Be on Time

Drexel University

The Main Building of Drexel is drop-dead gorgeous. With a massive marble staircase, pillars ascending to the ceiling where the immense chandelier hangs above, it is enough to take your breath away. However, one aspect that gives almost all students the chills is the story behind the Ryder Clock, situated to where you are forced to walk under it, its eerie message, “Be on Time,” glaring at you. The apparent history includes a dean who had an appetite for punctuality, even going so far as to stand in the main hall, pocket watch in hand to make late students feel utterly guilty. His name was J. Peterson Ryder, thus the Ryder Clock, and his legend lives on as a late student hurriedly rushes beneath the warning.

4. Millennium Hall is Sinking

The Harmon Group

This is a rather new superstition as this freshman dorm was built relatively recently. As the legend goes, Millennium Hall has a poor foundation that has led to the entire building beginning to sink. This superstition has been passed down since the day the dorm was opened and continues to remain a source of laughter.

Don’t get me wrong. Drexel University is a wonderful college full of opportunities. The superstitions, however, add that extra element of eerie to the average college experience.

Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Emily McKeon - Drexel University

Emily is an English student at Drexel University. She has written for CollegeXpress, Spoon University, the Triangle, and currently edits for MAYA Literary Magazine as well as here at FreshU. Follow her on Twitter @mckeon_emily!

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