Some Virginia Curiosities

University of Virginia Campus

By Kathryn Owen

By Kathryn Owen
Unigo Campus Rep at UVA

O-Hill’s Dean 
Dean is an institutional figure at the Observatory Hill Dining Hall.  O-Hill, as it is called, is the dining hall located closest to first-year dorms.  It was recently renovated and arguably offers the best selection of all the UVA dining halls.  Dean is a member of the O-Hill staff and known for his expert card-swiping techniques. He can handle multiple ID cards in one hand, swipe them at the same time, and return them to their proper owners.  He has even perfected a behind the back swipe.  His quickness has saved many students from starving in line, and they are forever grateful.

Steam Tunneling
UVA has two systems of steam tunnels, underground networks that carry heat and data wires to the entire community.  There is an older system under the more historic section of Grounds and a newer one under the newer buildings.  The two systems total a distance of more than five miles. Some students enjoy exploring the tunnels late at night, an activity that inspires the adrenaline rush of doing something both illegal and incredibly spooky.  It is considered trespassing and, as such, a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  If spray paint is brought along to graffiti the dark, dank passages, it becomes a Class 6 Felony.  Steam tunnel veterans do not recommend anyone go into the tunnels without an experienced guide due to how easy it is to get lost.  Not only are the winding tunnels confusing, but also many of the passage doorways, entrances and exits are locked or blocked off.  The more hardcore steam tunnelers pass around maps noting such traps and changes.          

Beta Bridge
Beta Bridge is located on Rugby Road, the famous road of sorority and fraternity houses that has defined university nightlife for so many students.  Students paint over Beta Bridge in the middle of the night to advertise an event, support an athletic team, or voice their opinions about something going on in the world.  The tradition of painting Beta Bridge began in the 1970s, mostly to encourage school spirit for athletic games.  It is named after the fraternity Beta Theta Pi, which had its house nearby but has since been shutdown.  Today, the bridge today is monitored by the fraternity Delta Upsilon, which is why students often paint “THX DU!” somewhere in their messages.  In October of 2007, the bridge had its first peel-off in 13 years.  The amount of paint taken off was enormous because students paint the bridge as often as several times a week, sometimes before the previous layer has completely dried.  Just a little more than a year later, the paint is already several centimeters thick.


The Homer statue is at the south end of UVA’s historic campus. Lawn plays an important role in the proper protocol for the student tradition of “streaking the Lawn.”  Proper protocol dictates that streakers should begin by taking their clothes off at the Rotunda steps, running the distance of the Lawn to Homer, and kissing or smacking Homer’s butt depending upon what most is most feasible given individual height limitations.  Streakers then should sprint back up the Lawn and up the Rotunda steps to whisper through the keyhole to the Thomas Jefferson statue in the Rotunda’s foyer “Good night, Mr. Jefferson!” before putting back on their clothes.  Though a streaker runs the risk of slipping, humiliation, and possibly being caught by the police and labeled a “sex offender,” streaking continues to be a popular late-night activity at the University.

The Rotunda, Mr. Jefferson, and the Seven Society
Secret societies have been around since the University was founded, and their symbols can be seen painted all over Grounds.  The IMP, Z, and Seven societies are the most visible and the most famous.  They are especially known for their philanthropic work within the community.  The Seven Society is the most secretive and arguably the most active.  If students wish to request something from the Sevens, they can place a letter of request in the crook of the arm of the Thomas Jefferson statue located inside the Rotunda.  For example, if a student organization is in desperate need of funding for an event they are holding and adequately plea for their cause, the Sevens will respond with a mysterious check, often in the amount of $777.77 or a number similarly notable for the presence of the sevens or its multiples.