In some Amish societies, teenagers explore the outside world during Rumspringa. In Japan, people honor their ancestors during the annual Obon Festival. At Cal State Fullerton, it is tradition for students to rub the bare bottom of the Fallen David statue, hoping it will grant them luck on their upcoming exams.
Rubbing the David statue for luck has been a tradition for some time now at CSUF. The statue, a replica of Michelangelo’s legendary original, was originally on display in Cypress, Calif. It fell during the Whittier Narrows 1987 earthquake, breaking into fragments. Eventually, the fragments were donated to CSUF to serve as a testament to other fallen monuments.
At some point, the tradition of rubbing the statue for luck sprung up among students.
“I heard that at orientation of freshman year,” said Bryce Honley, 20, Titan Pride Center attendant and English major.
Honley said that orientation tours tell students of other myths and traditions, such as the belief that McCarthy Hall is haunted. It is rumored that if students roam MH at night, the elevator will follow them. It’s almost become commonplace among students to shiver at the thought of wandering the building in the dark.
Though rubbing the statue may be one of CSUF’s more unusual traditions, it is by no means the only one.
A tradition that nearly all Titans might be aware of is Tuffy the Titan, the school’s mascot. Though most Titans may be familiar with Tuffy, few seem to be aware of his origins.
Tuffy’s origins trace back to the early ‘60s, when a simple joke at CSUF, then called Orange County State College, spun wildly out of control and drew the attention of the entire nation. It all started when a non-existent “Elephant Racing Club” was used as an example on a club application form.
This name was particularly funny to a certain group of students, who decided to create an actual Elephant Racing Club. Though they had no intentions of actually racing, they jokingly sent out invitations to many of the surrounding colleges, inviting them to participate in an elephant race on campus.
Much to their surprise, the Elephant Racing Club began to receive replies from people who were legitimately interested in racing elephants. Forced to go along with it, the school wound up hosting “The First Intercollegiate Elephant Race in Human History.”
The event ended up drawing 15 contestants, with entries coming from as near as the University of Southern California and as far as Harvard University. A reported crowd of over 10,000 people came to watch the elephant race on May 11, 1962. This gained the attention of newspapers around the nation and even received a telegram from Richard Nixon.
During the promotion of the race, an elephant named “Tuffy the Titan” was used to raise interest. At the time, the school did not have an official mascot, so the elephant quickly caught on. Eventually, it evolved into the Tuffy that Titans know today.
CSUF also has traditions that spring from the athletics department, such as the “Titan Fight Song” and the Titan Clap. Both can be heard at nearly any Titan sporting event. “Titan Fight Song” is a chant used to cheer on Titan players, while the Titan Clap emphasizes the cheering by adding an extra layer of noise to encourage the home team.
At the front lines of promoting some of these traditions is the Titan Pride Center (TPC). Located in the Titan Student Union, the center aims to instill a school pride in students. One way the center does this is the Titan Rewards Program, which gives students points toward rewards when they use their Titan Card at sporting events.
Traditions can help tie the campus community together and give them a shared sense of self.
“I think that they’re important,” said Joanne Caculitan, 21, a TPC attendant and kinesiology major. “It’s something that we can always look back on.”
Wiley said part of what connects students and alumni both currently and in the future is the knowledge of their shared Titan traditions.
“That’s the sense of ‘that’s my campus,’” said Drew Wiley, Associated Students Inc. leader and program developer. “That’s where I went to school, that’s where I got my education, that’s what I experienced.”