You might have heard it from upperclassmen or a campus tour guide, but there are several superstitions surrounding Ball State’s campus, and unique characters who walk up and down McKinley Avenue and through dining halls. If you haven’t experienced them before (or, at your own risk, tried them yourself), here are seven things that live in the back of the minds of some Ball State students.
1. Frog Baby
The Frog Baby fountain next to the Shafer Tower was first displayed in the David Owsley Museum of Art when it was cast in 1937, according to the BSU website. While it was there, students would walk over to the museum to rub the statue’s nose for good luck on their final exams. In fact, the statue’s nose was rubbed flat from how many people did this. Presently, the restored version of the statue resides in the middle of the Frog Baby fountain, where students will (illicitly) step into the fountain to dress her up for the season.
2. Shafer Tower
The Shafer Tower has its own legend attached to it, more sinister than Frog Baby’s— any student who walks under the bells of the bell tower is doomed to not complete their undergraduate degree within four years. It still applies whether the student does it on purpose or not, so this misfortune can really sneak up on you. There is a way to reverse the curse, however — you can return to the Shafer Tower and walk backwards under the bells again, retracing steps taken before.
3. Buddha Statue
According to the BBC, Puja is a Buddhist religious ceremony that involves reciting mantras, meditating and leaving offerings before a statue of Buddha or another religious figure. While not a superstitious ritual, this does manifest itself on Ball State's campus with the Amida, Buddha of Infinite Life and Light statue in the David Owsley Museum of Art. Buddhist students pray before this statue as part of their own religious rituals or to invite good fortune for exams, and there are many coins and other offerings laying on the base of the statue as a result.
The Beneficence statue past the Student Center, representing the Ball brothers’ gift to the university, has its own legend attached to it. If a person confesses their love to someone in front of the statue right at midnight, Beneficence’s wings will flap as they kiss if it’s meant to be. There’s no way to trace the veracity of a legend like this, but if anyone can convince their lover to meet them outside at midnight, there’s a good chance the relationship is built to last.
5. Green Man
On some Fridays, students may encounter a young man in a green morphsuit making his rounds on campus. He does not not carry any bags or books, but he does wander into crowded places (most commonly, the Atrium in the Arts and Journalism Building) and shout “Happy Friday!” to those who pay him mind. As the suit covers his face, this student’s identity is seldom known; students refer to him simply as Green Man.
In a similar vein to the Green Man, a student in a Spider-man jumpsuit and mask will occasionally wander Ball State’s campus. He models his character after the newest rendition of Marvel’s Spider-man played by Tom Holland, as he jokes that Ball State has easier acceptance than MIT and that he can’t swing around because he is out of web fluid. His identity is also seldom known. Even when he eats a slice of pizza, he only lifts his mask to expose his mouth.
7. Charlie Cardinal
Ball State’s sports mascot doesn’t just show up for the Cardinals who compete in collegiate sports! He can also be found on campus interacting with students in passing and raising people’s spirits. According to the Ball State Sports website, students audition to be Charlie Cardinal and don the suit, which has undergone 4 changes in appearance since the character’s creation in 1969. Unlike Green Man and Spider-man, Charlie Cardinal is a school-sponsored character, which means the identity of the actor/actress is required to be hidden. Don’t stick your beak where it doesn’t belong.
These seven traditions and characters may seem odd to newcomers but are part of what makes Ball State the campus it is and are just another part of life for students. Ask Spider-man about his nemesis when you see him or rub Frog Baby’s nose for good fortune when you need it – that’s what culture looks like for Ball State students.
Contact Miguel Naranjo with comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @naranjo678