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Davis, California

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Fact or fiction?: Investigating UC Davis’ myths

Much like any middle school, office break room or back issue of People magazine, UC Davis is riddled with myths and rumors. Word of mouth sometimes seems to be Aggies’ most commonly used method of spreading the latest gossip. What’s true and what’s not? The Aggie set out to investigate a few of UC Davis’ most widespread rumors.

Rumor: There are underground tunnels connecting various buildings on campus, and professors use them to get to class.

Verdict: FALSE

According to DavisWiki, legend has it there is a network of underground tunnels connecting Sproul Hall and Olson Hall, Roessler Hall and Physics and Geology Building and Wellman Hall and Kerr Hall. Some believe professors travel from their offices to the lecture halls using these tunnels, particularly during rainy weather.

There is no need to hate on your professors during the next cold snap, though – there are no tunnels for them to use as private pathways. Though facilities director Sal Genito said he believed some do exist, especially among places where pumping and electrical systems work, facilities superintendent William Rumley nixed the idea altogether.

“I have no knowledge of any tunnels between buildings other than steam lines and high voltage electric lines that are in concrete tunnel-like casings,” Rumley said in an e-mail interview.

Rumor: A student committed suicide in Sproul Hall.

Verdict: TRUE

Sadly, this rumor is indeed correct. On Nov. 1, 2006, graduate student Hung-Chieh Chai committed suicide inside Sproul Hall. According to an article published by The Davis Enterprise, a custodial worker found Chai’s body inside a third floor utility closet around 8 p.m.

Yolo County Deputy Coroner Robert LaBrash confirmed that Chai’s death was ruled a suicide.

“It was a hanging, and the cause of death was asphyxia,” LaBrash said.

Chai, 25, was a student in the pharmacology and toxicology program. The reasons for his suicide are unknown.

Rumor: It is possible for one person to tip a cow over while it is sleeping.

Verdict: FALSE

Judging by the number of “UC Davis Cow Tipping Team” shirts proudly worn by Aggies on a daily basis, it would appear that the art of “cow tipping” is still going strong at UC Davis. Fans of the sport claim that a single person can creep up on a sleeping cow and give it a shove. Because of the cow’s rigid leg position, it will not have time to prevent itself from falling over.

“This is serious stuff,” said cooperative extension specialist for the department of animal science Peter Robinson.

But Margo Lillie and Tracy Boechler of the University of British Columbia wanted to find out for sure, so they conducted a study to determine if it was physically possible to tip a cow. Their findings? Not quite possible.

The two determined the exact angle and amount of force needed to tip a cow over and discovered that it would take 4.3 people, according to a 2005 article in The Times, a London publication. Two people could exert the right amount of force, they concluded, but only if the cow didn’t react.

“I suspect that even if a dynamic physics model suggests cow tipping is possible, the biology ultimately gets in the way – a cow is simply not a rigid, unresponding body,” Lillie said in the article.

Long story short: the cow will most likely move before you have the chance to tip it.

Rumor: There is going to be a Forever 21 store added to University Mall.

Verdict: TRUE

Fashionistas, and anyone who likes to have more than two clothing store options, can now rejoice. The clothing chain Forever 21 is coming to the University Mall.

After Gottschalks closed its doors last year, rumors spread that Forever 21 was in talks to take over the space. On June 2, 2009, The Aggie reported that the retailer placed bids to take over 16 Gottschalks stores, including the one in Davis.

On May 17, 2010, The Sacramento Bee reported that the company had signed a 38,400 square foot lease in the mall.

Leasing representative Gabriella Samperio said the store is set to open in April.

“We market to retailers, and it’s a great use of the space,” Samperio said.

Forever 21 currently operates more than 450 stores worldwide and caters to young adults.

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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