Every college or university has its own little quirks and traditions that make it a unique experience from every other college. UNC-Chapel Hill is no different. From tour guide trivia to buried history, UNC is overflowing with odd stories and happenings that make it an amazing school.
Wilson vs. Morehead. One of the funniest legends on UNC’s campus involves two of its many benefactors, John Motley Morehead and Louis Round Wilson. During the construction of a new library on campus, both men donated large sums of money trying to get the building named after them. In the end, the Wilson Library became part of the UNC Campus. However, soon after the building was named, Morehead offered to pay for the now famous bell tower to be constructed under the condition that he was able to choose the location and design. Once the bell tower was complete, any person could stand in Polk Place and stare at the dunce’s cap that was now sitting on Wilson’s baldhead. Wilson may have won the battle, but Morehead definitely won the war.
Drink or Fail. Probably the most revered tradition at UNC is the belief that starting at midnight of the first day of classes you must drink from the old well or you will not get a 4.0 in any of your classes. Even if it means standing in the rain for hours, hundreds of students wait in line just for a quick sip from this drinking fountain where the water has never tasted so good.
A Tar What? Although UNC is known for being the home of the mighty Tar Heels, very few know the origins of this name. The two most popular theories involve the Civil War but each is told through a different lense. One version is that during a battle, opposing forces retreated causing the North Carolina soldiers to say that they would put tar on the retreating soldiers’ heels so they stayed longer in battle next time. The other version is that the North Carolina soldiers were the ones to retreat and were threatened to have tar put on their own heels so they would stay.
Carolina Blue Everywhere. It is no ordinary blue that fills the campus, but Carolina Blue that is said to be the color that God painted the sky because he loved Carolina so much. From stuffed Ramsies to T-shirts, this color is all over campus. Even the city of Chapel Hill joins in this colorful tradition as the fire trucks that serve the community proudly wear Carolina Blue.
It’s off to Franklin We Go. Being at the center of most the action at UNC is Franklin Street. Throughout the year this street is jam packed with students for one reason or another. At Halloween thousands of students flock to Franklin dressed in some of the craziest outfits imaginable. The most important show of student pride is each time UNC defeats arch rival Duke, the Tar Heels faithfully head towards Franklin for an insane celebration (no matter the weather).
Good Ol’ Friend Down the Street. As many people know, the beloved Franklin Street was named after Benjamin Franklin. However, many people do not know the story behind the street that runs parallel to Franklin. When this street was originally created it was not named after anyone famous or extraordinary but was instead named after the two women who lived on each end of the road, Rose and Mary, and thus Rosemary Street was born.
Chapel on a Hill. The creativity for naming continues in Chapel Hill with the name of the town itself. In the 1700s there was a Church of England located on the highest point of the town called New Hope Chapel Hill. The name was shortened and Chapel Hill was created. This church has since then been removed and replaced by The Carolina Inn but that one Chapel on top of the hill will be remembered forever.
A Basketball Legend, a President and a… Pop. Although basketball fans are proud of one of UNC graduates, Michael Jordan who graduated from UNC in 1984, UNC has many other famous graduates that vary from politicians to actors to inventors. Some other successful graduates include comedian Lewis Black, actor Ken Jeong, the 11th President of the United States James K. Polk as well as Caleb Bradham who is credited for being the inventor of Pepsi. And that is why I will never be able to get a Coke on campus.
Let’s Go Streaking on the Quad. When finals week arrives at the end of every semester, many student lose their minds and look for any way to relieve some stress. One of the most beloved (and traumatizing) finals stress reliever at UNC is at midnight of the first day of exams a proud group of student strip down on the top floor of Davis Library and then streak through ever floor and into the Undergraduate Library, where they sing the “Carolina Fight Song”. This is one event that you don’t want a front row spot for.
Follow the Red Brick Road (but watch your step). Although you may be able to be oblivious to several things on campus, the bricks are not one of them. Paving the way to anywhere on campus are these little death traps that most students have wiped out on. Due to their difficulty, these bricks have become a well-known attribute of the campus to students and visitors alike. However, there is something oddly comforting about the sound of rattling bricks under a bike as students walk to and from class.
No matter the amount of positive or negative things about UNC-Chapel Hill, each little trait makes the campus a home away from home and creates memories that are shared with every person who steps foot onto the campus and stays with them long after they leave