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Popular University urban legends debunked

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:27 am, Thu Oct 18, 2012.

It’s 5:34 a.m. The only light in your dorm room comes from your 16-inch laptop, tabs opened to Compass and Facebook.

Sleeping 12 feet away from you is your roommate who hasn’t opened his books all year, not that he really needs to. How hard is Public Speaking, anyway? The ambiance of the situation begs a single question: “Should I kill that guy?”

It’s a campus-wide belief that if a student dies in the dorms, their roommate automatically receives straight-A’s for the semester, no questions asked. But are these urban legends true? Unfortunately for premeditative murderers attending the University, the majority of these myths don’t extend past fables.

For the record, it is not true that students receive straight-A’s if their roommate dies. No one really knows where these myths came from, which is half the fun of telling them. They’ve been circulating campus for what seems like forever, waiting for incoming students to pass them along.

The Daily Illini set out to determine once and for all whether these myths are true.

*Trespassing upon the Morrow Plots is grounds for expulsion from the University*

Every student that receives a campus tour with an Illinois Student Admissions Representative (I-Star), aka tour guide, is told the story of the Morrow Plots.

Created in 1876, the plots are the oldest continually used experimental agricultural fields in the United States and second oldest in the world. When the University chose to put a library next door, it was built underground to avoid blocking the crops from the sun.

What students might not know about the Morrow Plots relates to the last piece of information often provided by the tour guides — that if a student trespasses upon them they will be expelled from the University.

Tess Mody, junior in LAS, is an I-Star and said every guide receives their information from a tour guide manual containing different facts about the University. Bolded facts are required to be told on every tour, while other snippets of information are told when there’s extra time.

“‘It’s rumored that if you go through the Morrow Plots you actually get expelled from the University’ is what I usually say,” Mody said. “It doesn’t say it’s a fact in the guide manual but it’s always fun to mention. People always gasp when I mention that.”

According to Section 1 302.m of the University’s Rules of Conduct: “Students enrolling in the University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the University’s function as an educational institution and suitable to members of the academic community. Conduct for which students are subject to discipline includes, but is not limited to, the following: Unauthorized entry to or use of University, public, or private premises.”

In English, you may not be expelled, but you will definitely get in big trouble.

*If a professor is 10 minutes late for class, students can leave early*

While it is an unwritten rule that if the person in charge of teaching a class is 10 minutes late, students can leave without repercussion, is it physically written somewhere as well?

Section 1-501. a of the Rules of Conduct states, “Regular class attendance is expected of all students at the University,” while according to Section 1-501.b: “Instructors are strongly encouraged to make a course syllabus available to all students prior to the deadline for an undergraduate student to add a course ... A syllabus also should include the instructor’s attendance policy, if any.”

Elyse Vigiletti is a teacher’s assistant for Rhetoric 105 and English 200 and said she would expect her students to stay if she arrived 10 minutes late but wouldn’t penalize them if they did otherwise.

“I probably wouldn’t penalize them beyond them just not being in class,” Vigiletti said. “I know it’s an urban legend and I would try to be understanding.”

Janet Keller, former anthropology professor and current associate dean in the graduate college, said there would be no repercussions if her students left.

“I’m not sure that they would stay,” she said. “I have heard the urban legend and would expect that they might be able to leave after 10 minutes, so I would expect to be timely whenever I could.”

*There is a supercomputer in the basement in the Foreign Language Building*

It was once believed that the reason why the FLB was built as an upside-down pyramid is because there was a secret government computer located in the basement of the building that Russians were trying to destroy. If the building was ever bombed, it would collapse around the computer and not on top of it.

“I used to say this one a year ago on my tours, but we were actually told by our supervisors that it’s completely false and we shouldn’t talk about it,” Mody said.

The building is currently under construction; whether the construction workers are avoiding that area cannot be confirmed nor denied.

*There is a ghost in the basement of the English Building*

The English building used to be a girl’s dormitory with a pool in the basement. Legend has it that a girl drowned in that pool, and her ghost now wanders the entire building. Students and teachers alike have claimed to see the ghost, though the pool has been replaced with a computer lab.

“Everyone knows about it. Every year Halloween they bring in a ghost hunter, but they’ve never found it,” Mody said.

*Other Myths*

According to University spokeswoman Robin Kaler, the rumor that a student hit by an MTD bus (and lives) will receive free tuition is also not true. So, jumping in front of a slow moving bus may not be the best idea.

Just FYI.

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