Guarding a tradition
Every student who attends Seton Hall learns never to step on the seal if he or she wants to graduate. Some members of the SHU family don’t take the legend seriously, but one specifically finds it an essential part of SHU tradition.
Francis Ahmed, a physician’s assistant student and peer adviser, has known about the seal since she visited during her senior year in high school. She said she believes completely in the tradition, and she never lets any of her students or friends step on it in her presence.
“I absolutely keep my friends from walking on the seal and everyone else,” she said. “I can’t help but shout out, ‘Don’t step on the seal’ when I see someone getting too close to it.”
She said she enjoys the school and its traditions, especially the tradition of the seal.
“I think we take the seal so seriously because this is our school and our traditions,” Ahmed said. “If you don’t wholeheartedly participate in the things that make our campus unique, it would be impossible to enjoy it. I always tell my students that they’ll only en- joy things as much as they’ll allow themselves to.”
She said students might go along with the prohibition against stepping on the seal at first just for fun.
“Then all of a sudden without really knowing when things changed, you really will believe in the curse and so genuinely not want anyone to step on it,” she said.
A recent addition to the legend is how to remedy a misstep on the seal.
As Ahmed knows, if someone does step on the seal they need to step on it again immediately and then run to the rec center within 30 seconds to rub the boot of the pirate statue.
According to Ahmed, some parents and people new to Seton Hall don’t realize the tradition and its importance to the school, but she said she thinks that everyone who does know should respect it.
“I think the people that don’t believe in the seal are usually the ones that don’t enjoy attending Seton Hall, and that’s sad,” she said. “Even if you don’t believe in it, be courteous of the tradition. It upsets me seeing people shamelessly walk across it just because they can.”
Tracy Gottlieb, vice president of student services, said the seal wasn’t there when she attended SHU but she still respects the tradition.
“When I was a student here there was no seal, and the paths on the Green formed a peace symbol and people would say, ‘Meet me at the Peace Symbol’, then at some point the seal showed up along with the maxim, ‘Don’t step on the seal’,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t know where that came from, but I do know that I would never step on the seal. It is just a superstition, but why mess with it?”
Eric Hostettler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.