By Hannah Neumann
For decades, not only on Baylor’s campus but across the nation, rumors have permeated the minds of the masses and spread as fact with little credibility.
Students on campus say they’ve heard the rumors: If a professor shows up 15 minutes late to class, students are welcome to leave unpenalized. If a student gets hit by a bus or their roommate dies, they get an automatic 4.0 grade point average and free tuition for the term.
While some Baylor students have heard these stories and accepted them as truths, many are left wondering if they really hold the weight of these long-believed legends.
Dr. Martha Lou Scott, associate vice president for student life, said she’s not sure about the origin of the roommate myth, but she is certain there is no truth behind it.
“There’s a part of me that thinks it came from someone in a stretch of imagination trying to be funny at a very, very sad time in life,” Scott said. “Somebody not knowing what to say or how to support.”
In 1998, a comedy film titled “Dead Man on Campus” debuted. The story follows two college roommates desperate for good grades who hear of the ‘if your roommate dies, you get an A’ rumor and set off in search of a suicidal third roommate they can nudge over the edge.
While the movie is commonly noted in association with this myth, it is unclear whether the movie inspired the rumor or vice versa. Scott said this rumor is not exclusive to Baylor, as she has heard it from other campuses. However, in past circumstances at Baylor involving the death of a student, self-interest is the furthest thing from the mind of the student’s fellow classmates.
“When something like that happens, for the people involved, that would be the last thing they would ever think about,” Scott said.
Houston freshman Maddi Tipping said at a Christian campus there is much more to be offered to grieving students; things more important and healing than funding and automatic A’s.
“If there was anything to be offered by Baylor, I would just think that Christian groups would come and talk to you,” she said. “I mean what the student would really need is a support group and maybe more pardoned absences.”
Waco freshman Stewart McSwain said he heard the rumor and accept it as truth, but doesn’t understand the purpose.
“Well, I heard that if your roommate kills themselves, you get free tuition to help you deal with the strain of having your roommate die,” he said. “I don’t understand how it would help, you know, it’s like accepting money for someone’s life and that’s just wrong.”
According to students, one of the most common rumors is the free tuition and 4.0 grade point average that is accompanied with getting hit by a bus.
Not knowing the validity of the rumor, Houston freshman Brenna Chaffee said if guaranteed the rumored benefits, she likely would risk the injury.
“I definitely would risk it if it were for tuition,” she said. “If I knew for sure the rumors were real I would walk in front of the bus. I mean, a slow bus, like I wouldn’t want to die, but I would risk getting knocked out or breaking an arm for it.”
Similar to the roommate legend, Scott said it is also unhealthy for a student to put themselves in a situation that could be life-threatening, simply for these rumored benefits.
“I would think that no matter what, there would have to be an easier way to get a 4.0,” Scott said. “You could easily spend your time more productively than you could recuperating in a hospital somewhere after you got hit by a bus, if you were able to survive.”
Scott said even after debunking these infamous beliefs, there are in fact ways to obtain the fictional benefits; safer, healthier ways.
“Study very, very hard and know that scholarships are available,” Scott said. “If a student studies hard and applies themselves and their grade point average is where it needs to be, they can meet with representatives and student financial services and talk with them about available scholarships.”
Scott said many students who attend Baylor even as first year students are awarded scholarships based on their grades.
“Just keep studying and doing well,” Scott said.
In regard to academics and hard work, Scott debunked the “15 minutes late,” myth and said she’s heard this rumor around campus even since she was a college student herself.
“I think that this is one of those things that you would want to discuss with your professor,” she said.
Scott said while there are always extenuating circumstances, Baylor professors in particular have always been considerate to students in communicating issues or changes ahead of time.
“I’ve never known of a professor who, if something happened and they’re running that late, wouldn’t get word to the class,” Scott said.
“Especially in this day of technology, someone will let the class know the professor won’t be showing up. I’ve not ever known of a class being held up because a professor who just flatly didn’t show up.”
Houston sophomore Sarah Johnston said she has actually experienced this a few times during her college experience.
“For the most part I have found that if the professor is 10 or 15 minutes late to class, it’s because they were trying to cancel class but they couldn’t get an e-mail out,” she said. “After a while the class will leave, and the next class, the professor will just apologize for not showing up.”
Johnston said she hasn’t ever had a professor penalize students for leaving after 15 minutes of class without a professor present.
Scott said she stresses the importance of not believing any information spread by students as fact without a credible source. She encourages students to type in their question on the Baylor web page first to see if they can locate the answer.
“They can also always come to me, as I do a lot of question and answering,” Scott said. “I would say that anything that they hear, especially if it’s coming from other students through hear-say, they should check with a professor or university representative to see what the facts actually are.”