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A spirit that is not afraid

The story behind the seal: superstition or something more?

Legend has it that students who step on the Auburn seal he or she will not graduate on time or find their true love at Auburn. (Chelsea Wooten / PHOTO EDITOR)
Legend has it that students who step on the Auburn seal he or she will not graduate on time or find their true love at Auburn. (Chelsea Wooten / PHOTO EDITOR)

Auburn has always been a school of traditions and legends, which play a big part when learning about Auburn, but does one really have bad luck when stepping on the Auburn University seal?

The seal, placed in front of Langdon Hall in the 1970s, bears a legend that any student who steps on it will be the target of bad luck, with consequences of not graduating on time and not finding your true love at Auburn.

"To reverse this curse, one would have to go swim in the president's fountain at midnight on a leap year," said Mary Catherine Banister, Successfully Orienting Students leader. "This means that those who step on the seal have the chance once every four years to get it reversed."

Banister said most of her students laugh, especially at the part about having to swim in the fountain on a leap year, but usually understand the seal is a big deal here at Auburn.

Quentin Torbert, junior in business management, said that he does not believe in superstition, and that something as silly as stepping on a seal will not cause you to graduate late.

"Even though I don't believe in the tale, I still wouldn't step on it out of respect for the tradition," Torbert said.

The original seal was designed for Alabama Polytechnic Institute by famous alumnus William Spratling and was adopted by the Board of Trustees on May 30, 1921. It was adapted in the 1970s when API became Auburn University.

Kacie Chumley, senior in secondary math education, said that she is not a superstitious person either, but she has never been one to question any Auburn legend.

"It's better to be safe than sorry," Chumley said.

The seal says "Auburn University" and also says the words "Research," "Instruction" and "Extension," which Banister said are three of the pillars that uphold this university and its credibility.

It also says, "For the advancement of science and art."

Banister said one of her favorite reactions from a student is when one student asked her to step on the seal to see of it was true.

"I obviously refused, adamantly so, and then the student let on that he was joking and would never make me do that," Banister said. "It was funny, but I'm glad they knew how seriously I take the legend."

Banister said that she can be a little superstitious, so she would never step on the seal because she wouldn't want to take the chance of the legend being true, but because it is an Auburn tradition, no matter how silly it seems, she believes it and tries to influence others to believe it too.

Torbert said he likes the tradition, and one thing that sets Auburn apart from other schools is the connection to traditions.

"I hope the university seal tradition continues to be re-told to keep it alive," Torbert said. "I want to tell my future kids about the tale of the university seal."

Banister said the seal is not one of the most well-known symbols of Auburn, but the elements it embodies are at the heart of this institution.

"I think that the seal stands for the prestige and tradition of Auburn University," Banister said. "Auburn has a rich history, and the seal dates back to some of its earliest days. It reflects academic focus, which is why students attend the school in the first place."

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