The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

The student newspaper of Clark University

The Scarlet

Do you know these Clark rumors and legends?

Clark is a pretty old place, and with 137 years of history there are bound to be many legends and rumors that have spread over the almost century-and-a-half the University has been in operation. This article is part one in a two-part series. 

Jonas Clark Hall mythos

The first mystery that I have to get out of the way is the, “you won’t graduate if you step on Red Square” urban legend. This is an apparent creation of the Admissions Department as a way of making up a quirky rumor that parents and prospective Clarkies can ponder for the rest of their campus tour. Every single university east of the Mississippi has a variation of this rumor, however, so this type of legend is a generic Walmart-tier legend. 

Many are also familiar with the infamous rumor that pertains to Jonas Clark Hall that is told by tour guides. There exists a rumor that Jonas Clark had planned that, in the event that the University failed, he would turn the building into a factory. However, this story is simple propaganda that has been coming out of the admissions office for so long that Etoin Shrdlu remembers it. Why the heck would Jonas Clark decide to create a factory out of the hypothetical failed Clark University when he literally went the length to carve “Clark University 1887” into the building? This is a definite Freudian fib. 

The nearby statue of Freud is a reminder of the famous Clark lectures he delivered. The University often touts the significance of this visit, as Clark was the only American university at which he ever lectured. However, did you know that the famous American anarchist Emma Goldman was in attendance at the lectures in 1909? This isn’t really a rumor as it was confirmed in her memoirs that she was indeed at Clark in 1909. I suppose that makes it more of a cool fact.   

Subterranean mischief and mysteries

Another rumor is the supposed “fitness bro flood,” in which some guy decided that the Kneller Gym was not pristine enough for his athletic abilities – leading to the use of some random pipe in the basement of JSC as exercise equipment. The fitness bro in question then broke the pipe, causing the basement to flood faster than the goddamn hull of the Titanic. 

There’s also the mystery of the Atwood tunnels. Supposedly, sometime in the mid-20th century, the men’s crew team decided they needed a place to practice. Perhaps they chose a nearby lake or river? Nope! Instead, they excavated a space for an indoor rowing tank in the basement of Atwood Hall, built at the direction of their coach. Supposedly, the team used a series of tunnels to remove all the soil from underneath the building. Whether or not these tunnels even existed to begin with is a mystery, though, so I don’t want to see a group of you with shovels outside Atwood at 1:00 a.m. 

But the most infamous thing that supposedly happened in a Clark basement is the infamous “Hughes Zoo.” This event happened sometime in the mid-2000s when an aspiring zoologist decided to turn their dorm into a habitat for a wide variety of reported creatures. The zoo rumor has several variations, with one being that the zookeeper had livestock in the dorm with sheep and goats; however, I highly doubt this variant of the story is true, given the effort it would take to somehow live in a Hughes room with two full-size four-legged creatures. Other variants of this story include the reptilian version, in which the zookeeper had a fondness for those sunbathing scaly creatures and decided to turn their freezing cold New England college dorm into a tropical paradise. 

The zoo in this story included snakes and lizards, but all variations of the story include the zoo being discovered over the horrid smell coming from the room. In the livestock scenario, people smelled the goat and sheep, and the zookeeper got busted. In the reptile scenario, the student dropped out or transferred and left the reptiles to fend for themselves in the dorm. Eventually, other residents smelled the dead snake carcass, allegedly. 

In all honesty, despite having heard this rumor many times, I highly doubt this is true. It seems like a rumor was necessary to make living in Hughes more exciting.

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