Campus Lore: It’s all completely true

The history of the University of Calgary is laden with myths, stories, and urban legends. Some are seedy, some are funny, others just plain bizarre. And, as with anything odd on campus, many involve the inexplicably eerie behaviour of engineers.

The engineering faculty seems a good place to start, giving birth to many pieces of campus lore over the last half-century. An old but now forgotten (and surely missed) tradition was Lady Godiva, where a naked woman would parade around campus on a horse. It’s not exactly certain why the R-rated and completely bizarre pastime vanished, but the campus hasn’t seen Ms. Godiva in decades, and it may never again.

Engineering students have also been linked to the dismantling of the Zipper, the obscure, metal sculpture in the center of Science Theatres, hanging a Volkswagen Beetle from the university arch (along 24 Ave.), and authoring Leon the Frog, the story about the lovable amphibian that graces every step of the Social Sciences’ east stairwell.

While these are all great feats, perhaps the most impressive was the creation of a fake student by the name of Joe Pillar. The university eventually caught wind of the scheme and put a stop to his university career, but not before he attended classes, wrote exams and came within four classes of an Engineering degree.

Other myths covering the long history of the U of C include the existence of a bowling alley a number of years ago in the sublevels of MacEwan Student Centre, where the Campus Cove and CJSW now sit. Even more talked about are the underground tunnels connecting all the buildings on campus. Some say the tunnels were closed decades ago due to fear of electrocution from protruding wires. Others say the tunnels were a prime location for student suicides, or were staging grounds for frequent assaults. Whatever the case, these tunnels are still a point of contention-one the U of C administration is apparently keen on keeping secret.

The most seedy and, not surprisingly, most elusive of campus myths is the existence of a secret sex society at the U of C. The society is rumoured to have a very secretive membership, and very strict guidelines to enter. To become a member, one must engage in sexual activities in 15 different places on campus. These included a mélange of locations like below the Prairie Chicken (the hard-to-decipher sculpture between the science buildings and the MacKimmie Library), and had to be performed at specific times ranging from the wee hours of the morning to the middle of the afternoon. However, this is all that is known about the society, and the truth may never be revealed-at least until one of the members is caught in the act.

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