What makes Trinity Trinity

Traditions and superstitions found on campus


Gia Campolo

Murchison Tower and Miller Fountain

Since Trinity University’s founding in 1869, students have developed and evolved a number of traditions and superstitions. The COVID-19 pandemic kept many students off-campus, and as a result, many first-years and sophomores did not get to experience campus traditions in person. However, now that campus is beginning to open back up, student life and traditions are being revitalized. Trinitonian talked with students around campus about their experiences with campus traditions.

The Fountain Dunk

The fountain dunk is arguably the most famous Trinity tradition. At midnight on their birthday, students are dunked into Miller Fountain by friends. Claudia Bush, sophomore accounting major, spoke about her experience with the fountain dunk.

“For my birthday last year, I didn’t think they were gonna dunk me in the fountain, but they all showed up at midnight and dunked me in [the fountain],” Bush said.

The Trinity fountain dunk tradition started in the 1960s when students would dunk their friends into a reflections pond on upper campus. Campus administration were concerned about the safety of the dunk, which eventually led to the pond being deconstructed. In 1966, students moved the dunking tradition to the newly constructed Miller Fountain, where the tradition has lasted for decades. Price Palmer, first-year, recounted celebrating the fountain dunk with his friends on their birthday.

“The fountain dunk is really fun. We go every birthday. I don’t know if everyone does this but we like to pick them up and swing them into the fountain.” Palmer said.


The Magic Stones

Just in front of the Coates Library there are a series of metallic stones helping students to pass their hardest Trinity exams. The stones, entitled “A Conversation with Magic Stones,” were sculpted by Dame Jocelyn Barbara Hepworth and gifted to the University in 1983 by Jane and Arthur Stieren. Since their installment, a legend has developed that if you study in front of the stones for an exam, you are guaranteed an A. Lydia Heisel, a sophomore history and environmental studies major, spoke of using the magic stones on the right test.

“I’ve also heard that it only works once so you have to pick a test that you know you’re not gonna do too well on,” Heisel said.


The Trinity Seal

Outside of Northrup Hall, students can be seen skirting around the Trinity seal to avoid the dreaded curse. It has been said that any student who steps on the Trinity seal will be cursed to not graduate in four years. 

Despite its now ominous meaning, the tradition had more innocent beginnings. In 2004, Ryan Henderson, president of the Association of Student Representatives, suggested that students should not step on the seal out of respect for the university.  Despite this, the tradition has stuck. To this day, if you are outside of Northrup you will probably hear “Watch your step!” 


Documentation of Campus Traditions

Trinity has gone through a lot of changes since 1869, but many traditions have a long history at the University. Much of the history of student life has been documented within the University Archives. Ever Whitlock, secretary of the Trinity University Archives Student Advocates, spoke about the importance of documenting Trinity’s history. 

“The campus Traditions are important to know because Trinity has gone through quite a bit of changes throughout the years […] Every once in a while you will come across something [in the Archives] and you are like ‘oh cool, Trinity has always been slightly weird,’” Whitlock said. 

The history of Trinity is largely found within the traditions of the student body.  So just remember  the next time you find yourself being dunked in the freezing cold Miller Fountain, you are partaking in the traditions that make Trinity’s history.