Don’t step on the Pegasus Seal if you want to graduate.
At least that’s how the legend goes.
The idea is that if a student steps on the Pegasus Seal on the floor of the Student Union, they won’t graduate.
But despite the legend’s persistence, it’s hard to say exactly how the myth began.
Assistant Director of the Student Union David Oglethorpe, 30, said he’s heard a few ideas on how the myth came to be.
Oglethorpe is no stranger to UCF’s campus; he completed his master’s degree in higher education in 2013, and worked with the Office of Student Involvement for three years before moving to his current position with the Student Union Administration.
In 1999, the executive branch of UCF’s SGA issued a memo to rope off the Pegasus Seal in the Student Union atrium for the first time. Blocking off the seal was most likely done out of respect and may have galvanized the creation of the legend, Oglethorpe said.
Custom cut tiles like those used for the Pegasus Seal are very expensive to install due to the craftsmanship and detail involved, Director of the Student Union Rick Falco said.
However, they are no more costly to maintain than the normal tiles in the Student Union.
“I don’t think it would have been a factor in the seal being roped off, but there could be some truth to it,” Falco, 41, said.
Oglethorpe has also heard a rumor that a psychology class once conducted a human-behavior experiment involving the seal. Students stood around the seal as their professor warned them that stepping on it would cause them not to graduate, and results of who stepped where were recorded.
Despite the frequently-cited curse, there are some less-known rules.
Soon-to-be graduates are allowed to step on the Pegasus Seal without repercussions as a physical affirmation of completing college.
“When we have graduations and people come to take their pictures on the seal, we pull all of the stanchions down for that week period, and people walk over it all day,” Oglethorpe said.
Similarly, Student Union employees are granted the same privilege when they’re on the clock.
“But we have a couple student workers who won’t step on it,” Oglethorpe said.
Oglethorpe said he’s working to have a plaque placed near the seal informing students and visitors of the legend.
Jerilyn Pollock, a UCF student and former orientation group leader, avoids the seal whether the ropes are up or not.
Pollock was an orientation group leader for three semesters, beginning in spring 2016. She naturally added the myth into her orientation spiel, she said.
“I don’t remember if my boss ever said to mention it, but it was something we all just knew about and of course had to share with the incoming class,” Pollock said.
The 22 year old has been at UCF for more than five years and is pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Even Pollock has experienced the effects of the Pegasus Seal legend, she said.
“I actually definitely believe it because while taking grad pictures for my friend, I stepped on the edge of the seal and soon after was told I’d be graduating a semester later,” Pollock said.
However, despite the misstep, she managed to graduate on time.
But not everyone is as lucky.
Kyle Enriquez took the myth with a grain of salt, he said.
Enriquez began studying music education at UCF in the summer of 2010 and remembers first hearing the myth from his orientation group leader.
“I’ve never been a very superstitious kind of person, I even laughed and rolled my eyes,” Enriquez, 25, said.
Still, Enriquez avoided stepping on the seal out of respect as he appreciates a good tradition, he said.
But accidents happen.
During the end of his senior year in 2014, Enriquez was leaving the Student Union’s Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Co. with a coffee and sandwich in hand. It was then he noticed the oncoming custodial cart, he said.
The dodge that saved Enriquez’s lunch also landed him exactly where he didn’t want to be: directly on top of the Pegasus Seal.
He started classes the following semester, but financial and personal hardships kept him from focusing on school, and he ultimately stopped going.
Three years later he still jokes about the accident that cut his college career short. Enriquez said hopes to get back to school soon and cross the stage smiling.
“Of course I joke about it being the reason, but as much as I would like to blame it on stepping on the seal, I can’t,” Enriquez said.
It may never be known for sure how the legend originated, but one thing is for certain — UCF students don’t take the legend lightly.
Pollock and Enriquez had exactly the same advice for freshmen skeptical of the legend:
“Just don’t do it.”