Tributes or Trash?

Student Finals Tradition Escalates in Recent Years
by Karen Shih ’09 | photo illustration by Kelsey Marotta ’14

They came at first bearing candy bars, beads and cups of coffee. Then they left couches. A deep fryer. A water fountain.

For decades, superstitious students have brought offerings to the bronze Testudo in front of McKeldin Library during finals week in a silent plea for good grades. But in the past five years or so, these gifts have gone from the sentimental to the downright strange.

“It’s like a competition,” says Bryan Mansaray, landscape technician supervisor who oversees the early morning cleanups. “Every year, someone’s trying to outdo the last year.”

Though his crew finds some of the offerings “hilarious,” he cautions students to be careful as they move things like cement benches.

Last year, University Libraries launched the #MyTestudo campaign to encourage students to leave items of personal significance, which could be curated and shared with a wider audience in an online collection.

“If students attach some sort of sentiment to it,” says Director of Communications Eric Bartheld, “perhaps it will lead to a reduction of these outrageous items.”

ODDBALL OFFERINGS INCLUDE: Light pole / Stop sign / Sombrero / Old-school tube TV / Newspaper rack / Traffic cone / CVS basket / Child's bike / Analog wall clock / Toilet / Microwave / Laptop / Door from a lab


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