by Marla Gagne ’18
One day Wanda Ingram ’75, senior associate dean of undergraduate studies and freshman class dean, was beginning her first year at Providence College, the newly co-ed school. As she walked with fellow classmates into Raymond Dining Hall, she noticed the people around her quickly moving to avoid something on the floor. What was going on with the sporadic movements that left people jumping away from her? Nothing too crazy—just a little superstition.
Ingram soon found out that the weird behavior she was witnessing was simply to avoid a circle in Ray with the school insignia. Rumor had it that one step on the seal would bring bad luck. Ingram laughs as she thinks back to the superstition, something she personally never believed in, while Dr. Raymond Sickinger ’71, history department chairperson and professor, recalls always avoiding the circle like most students at the time.
Fast forward to 2017, and the circle has moved but the superstition is the same. Most students on campus agree that everyone must avoid walking on the plain grey circle in front of St. Dominic’s Chapel or face the consequences.
Alexandra Jones ’17, who firmly believes in avoiding the circle, first heard about the curse on a school tour. Her guide said, “If students step in the circle, they won’t graduate. If parents [step in], they won’t get good financial aid.”
And, while there may be some who doubt the power of the circle, Joe Flynn ’15 ’17G said his sister, who didn’t hold the same belief, stepped on the circle during a tour and never got into PC.
The origins of the superstition remain unknown, but Jones thinks it might be like people spinning on circles before boarding a plane. If there is a “circle somewhere, you have to do something [even though] it doesn’t make sense,” said Jones.
Some are avid believers in the circle’s powers, others just see the circle as concrete.
But whether it is a seal in Ray or a circle near the chapel, most students might agree with Michael Scott from The Office who says, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.”
Scream Like You Mean It:
It was the best of times, it was the worst times: It was Civ. Since its formation in 1971, Development of Western Civilization (DWC) has been a unique part of PC’s liberal arts education. Students study thousands of years of history across multiple disciplines, learning about the cultures that shaped the Western World.
DWC is also notoriously difficult. The essays are complex, the seminars are long, and the homework is never ending. In celebration of finally conquering long nights of studying and hard work, students gather the night before their final DWC exam and scream out two years of feelings.
Flynn said DWC Scream is simply freshmen getting excited because it is their first one, sophomores feeling glad to be done with DWC, juniors usually not being interested, and seniors going crazy—“it’s the thing before graduation and commencement.”
Dr. Sickinger can recall Civ Scream being an event when he returned to PC as a professor in 1974. Ever since then, students have continually gathered to celebrate surviving DWC and having a night of fun.
Every Civ Scream is different and, after a seemingly long period of silence and waiting, crazy events take place. Students in just the past five years have seen everything from burning couches and fireworks to students streaking across campus. Mascot costumes and horse masks always make an appearance and sometimes students go for a swim in mini pools and slip ‘n slides.
Recent PC classes have failed to have this classic DWC experience. Security has heightened over the past few years to control any crowds and prevent property damage. Although he knows it can get out of hand some years, Flynn says he is glad to have experienced Civ Scream during his time at PC. “It’s a fun tradition,” he said, “And a cathartic release.”
To cover all superstitions and traditions over 100 years would be impossible, but here are some that have survived the test of time:
Rumor has it that Doore Hall, along with other lower campus buildings that used to be part of a medical institution, is haunted by the ghosts of patients.You have never really lived at PC if you have not hungout at the Quad, sled down Guzman Hill, or taken a picture with the country’s creepiest mascot: Friar Dom.
And while most students are glad to wear jeans and T-shirts to class, students before 1971 used to follow a dress code of a sports coat and tie. Freshmen were also forced to wear small hats with their class year on them, allowing seniors to identify and order them around.
As PC flies into the future and looks forward to another 100 years of success, it brings the traditions, for better or worse, with it.