Legends of the Fall Semester


UW–Madison has a storied history. If only all those stories were true.

The arrival of another fall semester means that another class of freshmen has come to campus. Even as you read this, these young Badgers are learning about their university from their fellow students. Upperclassmen and -women will soon educate them about UW–Madison and its history, giving them all the important facts. Some of those facts might even be true.

The UW has a long and storied history, and as one generation of students relates those stories to the next, the university’s legend grows somewhat more legendary. Campus characters become more colorful, events merge, and ironies compound. Ultimately, Badger tales become taller.

As we head into a new academic year, let’s scrape away some of the myths that accumulate like barnacles on our campus history. At the risk of mixing a marine-biology metaphor with one that involves wheat, Badger Insider will sift and winnow to find the truth behind UW legends.

(Myth number 1: false. Barnacles do not live in Lake Mendota. They are not a native species, nor are they an invasive species. You’re thinking of zebra mussels. Students in Zoology 315, an undergrad limnology course, discovered that the mollusks had invaded Lake Mendota for the first time in October 2015.)

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