We’ve all heard some of the classic University of Connecticut fun facts. The Dairy Bar ice cream isn’t FDA-approved and can’t be sold across state borders. We’re the only school in the nation with a puppetry major. Big deal. But actually, there’s a lot more to UConn than our ice cream and our classes. A lot of weird and cool stuff has happened at UConn over the years, so here’s a look at some of it.
Starting small, besides our fancy-schmancy Dairy Bar ice cream, we make some other cool stuff. Wool from the UConn flock of sheep is used to make blankets for The Connecticut Blanket company, which only uses Connecticut wool for their products. Also, the Forestry and Wildlife club has demonstrations and seminars about how they make their own maple syrup here on campus.
You’ve probably been to the Swing Tree (bless it’s sick roots), but there are some other interesting spots on campus that not everybody knows. The Little Stone House across from Swan Lake, hidden by trees along North Eagleville Road was built with stones from all fifty states, originally donated from this guy called A.P. Marsh who had a rock collection people actually took seriously.
In the biology greenhouses, we have this flower called “Titan arum,” more affectionately known as the “corpse flower,” because it smells like an episode of “The Walking Dead” when it blooms. Luckily, it doesn’t bloom often. The last time was September 2011.
Maybe the weirdest place of all is the old coydog kennel in the UConn Forest. What, you may ask, is a coydog? Well, back in the 80s, when all our parents were here, UConn was involved in a genetic research project crossing beagles with coyotes. The research eventually ran into some trouble when one of the coydogs was kidnapped and killed.
When we talk about our alumni, you might have heard of the big ones like Rick Mastracchio, the astronaut who gave a commencement speech from space, but there are a few others who don’t get enough attention even though we hear their names all the time. For example, Charles Brock, honored with Brock Residence Hall in the Alumni Quadrangle, was the first person in the United States to sell Vitamin D-fortified milk. Now, almost all commercially sold milk is fortified with Vitamin D. Who ever said Huskies aren’t trend-setters?
Hopping next door to Eddy Hall, Eddy was named after Willard Eddy. Willard may not have made a huge splash in the dairy industry, but what’s cool about him is that he was a member of a secret UConn society known as the Druids. It’s true, just like those pretentious Ivy League schools, UConn has also been home to a secret society. The Druids were in action for 31 years, honoring student leaders and other prominent Huskies, asserting their subtle influence over student government and being generally sketchy people.
Speaking of important UConn figures, we can’t ignore the most important of all, Jonathan the Husky. Jonathan was named after Jonathan Trumbull, the first state governor of Connecticut, and was hit by a car nearly the same day the name was chosen back in 1934, which is very interesting and ironic. But there are some more skeletons in Jonathan’s closet. Okay, actually, it’s not that dark, but still.
One of my personal favorite Jonathan the Husky stories is the time that Jonathan II literally chased a black bear up a tree. The black bear in question was the mascot of the University of Maine, and was so scared of our ferocious husky that the local fire department had to rescue him from the tree.
Coming in at a close second is a Jonathan story from 1965. The school was rife with anti-government sentiments in the midst of the Vietnam War, and somebody on the student senate decided that Jonathan was a “symbol of the establishment.” Obviously. So they decided to sell him. That didn’t go over so well with the student body. After a petition, Jonathan was reinstated in the care of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. Moral of the story, no matter how angry the student body gets with President Donald Trump, the solution is NOT to sell Jonathan.
Keeping in line with this historic theme, UConn had some pretty weird traditions back in the day. New England fashion may always be a little off, but up until the 60s, freshmen students were required to wear beanies, which they were supposed to tip at upperclassmen or faculty. I’m still trying to work out how you “tip” a beanie. Freshmen were also supposed to carry matches to light professors’ pipes and give everyone they passed a “cheery hello.” Failure to live up to these requirements often led to consequences like being dragged through the woods to the train tracks and tied to a post only feet away from trains rushing by. You know, the usual response when one doesn’t wear a beanie.
Hopefully some of these facts were new to you and help show that even when you think you know everything about UConn, there’s still more to find by delving a little deeper.
Alex Houdeshell is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.