Rider’s MythBusters

By Amanda Sandlin

Surely you’ve heard them before — Rider rumors. Every campus has its urban legends, kept alive by students moving through and leaving behind unproven tales for future students to continue. But how many of them are verified? Here are three common campus rumors and their answers — or as close to an answer as possible.

Centennial Lake takes on a different aura at night. Although the daylight may highlight its imperfections, such as the sludge and unidentifiable objects, nothing about the lake is toxic.

Myth #1

Centennial Lake is toxic
Centennial Lake has a bad reputation. Between random pieces of furniture being dumped into it, rumors of a Public Safety car resting along the lakebed and fecal matter from geese, not many would consider it clean. In fact, some students even classify it as toxic.

Dr. Kathleen Browne, assistant provost and academic director of The Learning Center, directed a student restoration project on Centennial Lake in 2000.

“Prior to the restoration, if you looked at the lake in the middle of the day it’d look like pea soup,” Browne said.
Thanks to the restoration project and successfully deterring geese from living on campus, the lake is in much better shape, but Browne says that whether or not it’s toxic is not up to her.

“Toxic is defined differently in different circumstances. To me, toxic is anything higher than the maximum limit, as in government levels allowed,” she said. “But one sample wouldn’t be enough. There’d need to be a continuous monitoring program to determine that.”

Browne also explained that smaller bodies of water, such as Centennial Lake, usually result in a higher concentration of nutrients and chemicals. But Browne says that New Jersey’s bodies of water aren’t in prime condition as it is. This is the result of factors such as dense population, highway runoff and litter.

Finally, Browne said she’s not fearful of what the lake contains. She would take as much precaution swimming in the lake as in any other body of water.

“Would I go swimming in that lake? I would,” she said, but advised that drinking it would be unwise. “The mud might be stinky, but that’s just from organic elements.”

Moore Library’s mysterious fourth floor is real and houses some periodicals that date back to the 18th century.

Myth #2

Moore Library has a fourth floor

Indeed, there is a fourth floor in Moore Library, but is it mysterious? Not so much. Although it’s not open to the public, it disappointingly lacks eerie cobwebs and Harry Potter-like secret passageways.

Robert Congleton, Moore Library’s department chair and librarian, explained that the fourth floor used to house the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences professors until 1990.

“Students would have to make this trek each time they wanted to see their professors,” he said, stopping mid-step and catching his breath to spout off a quick fact.

Congleton said the fourth floor is simply used for processing and ordering library books, among other methodical processes.

“We keep some periodicals up here that are rarely used,” he said, dating some as far back as the 18th century. “But anyone can access this information. They’d just have to ask circulation staff and then they’d retrieve it.”

Although it lacks an alluring aura of mystery, the fourth floor offers library faculty a secluded workspace away from public disturbance.

Rider’s football team, called the Roughriders, was composed mostly of World War II veterans. The team posed for its traditional team shot in 1929.

Myth #3

Rider’s football team was banned for 100 years

Perhaps you’ve seen the T-shirts: “Rider football: Undefeated since 1951.” The University began its football program in the 1920s. Most of the players from the program’s glory days in the late ’40s and early ’50s were World War II veterans. The G.I. Bill provided college funding for these returning vets — ideal candidates for a football team.

“These guys were warriors. They were older than your regular college guys,” said Edward A. Torres, a 1954 Rider graduate and current men’s and women’s tennis coach, holding up a picture from his old yearbook. “Look at their receding hairlines. These guys were tough.”

The campus, at the time located in downtown Trenton on 428 East State St., sheltered students from the bustling city streets. The football team, dubbed the Roughriders, lived in the basement of the dining hall, which they called “The Dungeon.”

Various rumors have surfaced about the disappearance of the football team.

According to Wikipedia, Rider was placed under investigation in 1951 because of allegations that the team was paying recruits and giving players improper benefits. The story goes that the NCAA then asked the school to discontinue the team. However, sports information director Bud Focht said the team was dropped for simpler reasons.

“Rider chose to stop sponsoring a football team for financial reasons,” he said. “The team was made up of a lot of army guys who were at Rider through the G.I. Bill so we had all these older guys, and we were pretty good at football because they were playing against 18- and 19-year-olds. When they all graduated, we didn’t have too many great football players here anymore.”

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