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Quirks, myths and traditions on Hampton’s campus

Graduates celebrate their degrees during commencement ceremonies at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., Sunday, May 9, 2010. President Barack Obama addressed the graduates at historically black university on Sunday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Graduates celebrate their degrees during commencement ceremonies at Hampton University in Hampton, Va., Sunday, May 9, 2010. President Barack Obama addressed the graduates at historically black university on Sunday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kenya Baker | Staff Writer

There are certain things that make Hampton unique such as the wonderful view of the waterfront, the people and the rich history that this campus possesses. Aside from all of those things, there are a few quirks and tales that many students have heard throughout their time at Hampton. These stories, quirks and traditions help to enhance the Hampton experience and the memories that are taken away after graduation.

Once you step foot on this campus you are warned to never touch Ogden Circle. There is a belief that if you step on Ogden Circle before your appointed graduation day, you will not graduate on time. While many students do not know where this originated, there are several myths circulating the campus. From burial grounds to old greek plots, the myths evolve from year to year.

Peter Savedge, a junior history major from Surry County, Virginia thinks Ogden Circle is sacred ground due to the campus design of Hampton many years ago before its expansion. “It’s very close to the plots of sororities and fraternities on campus.” Peter also had this to say; “you know freshmen year we have the induction ceremony and after the ceremony we stand around the circle with our candles. And then senior year we actually get to step onto the grass and act a mess. It’s like a full circle moment, you start on the outside of the circle but end up on the inside.”

Although Ogden Circle represents optimism, the haunted room in Virginia-Cleveland Hall tells a more disturbing tale. According to Denise Jones, a junior five-year MBA major from Dallas, the VC tale goes something like this: “in the 40’s or 50’s this girl got pregnant and she told her boyfriend but her boyfriend told her to abort it. So she hung herself inside the room. The room is still boarded up to this day.”

In terms of tradition, while many of Hampton’s core principles have remained the same, some have been left behind. Dorla Herring, a Hampton alum from the class of 1987 remembers one such  tradition about Hampton from her time as a student. “When I started college at Hampton it was Hampton Institute. There were marches, rallies, and protests against changing the name because we considered that name the essence of whom we were. It distinguished us from other HBCU’s. We believe that it made us significant and gave us character. Although I know the benefits that we gained from becoming a university, it still puts us in a larger group.”

While some traditions change, some remain the same. This includes the tales of ghosts and spirits haunting Hamptons campus. It seems as if a story about Virginia-Cleveland Hall is a generational occurrence because Mrs. Herring also remembers the haunting tale of VC. “There were a lot of stories centered around the attic. It was said to have a Victorian ghost in the attic of VC.”

Although there are many differences that separate the current Hampton generation from those that came before, what bonds these generations are the quirks, stories and traditions that all Hamptonians share. You will never go to another university or college and hear them refer to being expelled as “out by 5”, nor will you be able to experience the level of glee and joy when you are finally allowed to cross the grass of Ogden Circle. Truly Hampton University is a unique, once in a lifetime experience. A true education for life.

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