Athena, patron of Athens and the goddess of war and wisdom, is often portrayed as a majestic woman with a beautiful, stern face. Placing her likeness over the north entrance of Doe Library, a classical Beaux Arts beauty at the heart of campus, was a nod to Berkeley’s early aspiration to become “the Athens of the West.” But legend also says she dispenses wisdom to all who walk beneath her — and will take it away if you leave out the same door.
Other traditions — or suspicions — to assure good grades permeate Cal lore. In 1930, the campus carillonist played “The Hanging of Danny Deever,” a mournful melody, the last day before finals began and accidentally started an end-of-semester tradition that continues to this day. Review, Reading, and Recitation (RRR) Week, formerly called “dead days,” is a free period between instruction and exams that gives students a chance to study, finalize their papers and projects, and participate in review sessions with each other or with their professors. Students refer to the stone ball in front of the Campanile as the “4.0 Ball,” and rubbing it before an exam is considered good luck. They may avoid stepping on the university seals embedded in Memorial Glade, roll down 4.0 Hill by the Faculty Club, or run buck naked through the library.
No matter how silly the act, or how far students are willing to go, these traditions undoubtedly turn the stress down and fun up — and hopefully give GPAs a boost.