The seal superstition is contradictory to SHU’s mission

Seton Hall University is Catholic to its core. In 2017 – for the third consecutive year – the school that was the best university for Christmas celebration.

Students believe that stepping on the seal will impact their grades.
Sarah Yenesel/Photography Editor

Every year, rain or shine, students gather around the large 60-foot Norway Spruce tree on the Green and wait to see the rainbow of 43,000 lights brighten the spirit of a student body worn down by final exams.

I could point to several other examples of the impact that faith has on Seton Hall, including mass, which incoming students – Catholic or not – often attend, in addition to countless alumni who schedule their sacrament of marriage inside the Immaculate Conception Chapel.

Personally, I have grown up Catholic. Having never gone to a Catholic school in my childhood, Seton Hall has given me an opportunity to connect with my faith in a way that I will always be thankful for.

I’d be remised, however, if I did not mention a very significant contradiction, albeit mainly harmless, that I still cannot comprehend in the very center of campus. This contradiction lies adjacent to the very Immaculate Conception Chapel and can be explained, quite simply, in a five-word command.

“Don’t step on the seal!”

The First Commandment as seen in Exodus 20:2-6 states, “I am the Lord your God…you shall have no other Gods before me…You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”

Now, no one is bowing down or worshipping the seal, clearly, but that passage is not meant to be interpreted literally. Students will go as far as to spin their way out of stepping on the seal, which is giving an undue amount of power and importance to an inanimate circular plaque on the sidewalk.

By acting in such a way, students are buying into a superstition that the seal will have a direct effect on their academic performance. And as innocent as it may be to walk around the seal, it is inherently contradictory for a Catholic university’s community to embrace such a superstitious tradition when the First Commandment prohibits embracing false idols.

I take no joy in upsetting tradition, however, the more I think about not stepping on the seal, the more I see it as an unhealthy custom. Sure, it may link generations of students together with one corky practice, but surely there are other ways to connect student bodies together.

Being a Catholic university, if Seton Hall students do in fact believe in a greater power, that greater power should not be the seal.

James Justice is a junior visual and sound media major from Caldwell, N.J. He can be reached a

Author: James Justice

James Justice is the Assistant Sports Editor at The Setonian, a role he took over in May of 2018. He previously served as the Sports Copy Editor in the 2017-18 year, following his time as a staff writer. Outside of The Setonian, James is a match-day correspondent for the New York Red Bulls' SB Nation website Once A Metro, in addition to being a news and sportscaster for 89.5 WSOU FM.

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  1. Dear Mr. Justice,

    I respectfully disagree. Now I will serve justice and wisdom upon your undergraduate soul. I am an alum from Seton Hall and the number one “tradition” I have learned in my life and my collegiate experience is about “respect.” I am sure that you, as of the Catholic faith, know a lot about traditions and what you call “superstitions.” You can go to mass and church every Sunday, have holy water, take communion and drink wine that is supposedly the embodiment of Jesus Christ. The seal brings unison, it stands for community, it stands for family, and it stands for tradition. The seal is not an idol, it is not a religious symbol. As fellow pirates, we respect our school, we respect our emblem, we respect our mascot, and we respect our 150 year old traditions. You may find the tradition silly, but if you believe “stepping on the seal” or avoiding it undermines the Catholic tradition, you are sadly mistaken. Praying to a false idol in the Catholic tradition has nothing to do with the seal because it is not a representation of any faith or God. The seal tradition is what distinguishes SHU from any other university and is just as important to the campus as the Catholic Mission and the Church. I pray you learn the meaning of respect and tradition as you continue your academic journey.


    Nicholas Luciano
    Class of 2015, Stillman School of Business, The Gerald P. Buccino Center for Leadership Development Honors Program

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  2. Lighten up, Francis

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