A congenial, Southern, atheist, bisexual, vegetarian woman devoted to equality for all. Loves to amuse and be amused. | @hypochristi
Religion contains the biggest collection of superstitions in existence. People jump out of the way of a cute black kitty, someone’s out there vengefully pricking a voodoo doll, or a self-proclaimed prophet is about to declare the date of the latest doomsday. I have realized recently how far people are willing to go to avoid “bad luck” when my university’s Atheist, Agnostic, and Skeptics club held an event this past week whose aim was challenging students to break one of our school’s superstitions – walking under the clock tower. Walking under it supposedly means the person daring to do so will graduate late. The clock tower was built in 1991 as a 50th anniversary present to the class of 1941. No one knows when the superstition was born or why, but that doesn’t stop students from religiously avoiding its underside.
During the event, members of the club sat around the clock tower, cheering and applauding anyone who walked under it. The event was of mixed success, since a majority of the people who walked under the clock tower were either not paying attention when they did so, or gave us strange looks when we cheered them on. More often, we saw groups of people get close to the clock tower and then suddenly veer around it. Others decided to squawk “No! Don’t go under there!” at their friends who got too close. Most didn’t notice our club’s banner hanging between the pillars. Those that did made revolted looks and walked away (big surprise). People weren’t willing to walk under the tower knowing the superstition, so they sure weren’t more willing after seeing that we “buzz-killer” atheists were sponsoring the whole thing.
Doing some research, I discovered that the rate for four-year graduation is only 29% at my institution. Could it be that the 71% of students that won’t graduate on time suffered the “consequences” of walking under the clock tower? Highly unlikely. I’ll be graduating in 2014, a year later than expected. I didn’t have to walk under the stupid clock tower to pull that off. After transferring schools and changing majors, it’s logical to conclude that my late graduation is solely due to these actions on my part. Odds are the rest of the student body graduating late finds themselves in similar circumstances. I don’t know of anyone who actually uses the clock tower as their excuse, so at least I can say that much.
Despite the expected reactions from students, I was left with a disappointing feeling. To see so many people refuse to break a baseless school tradition without knowing their facts helped me see how so many people fall prey to religious ideas. Why believe in superstitions? Because bad things happen to you if you go against them, of course. For some, the reasoning for adhering to religious dogma is just that pathetically simple. It’s easier to live without questioning superstitions and/or religious beliefs because others say it’s true – therefore it must be true!
I look forward to the club holding this event again in the future. Even if no one else decides to “risk” her graduation date, sitting there proudly with members of the club reminds me and lets everyone else know that there’s nothing to fear. I’m not the only one who questions everything as opposed to believing anything. Perhaps at least some of my fellow college peers will come to their senses one day. Regardless, I’ll be at the clock tower defending reason each and every time.