Is a decades-old U.Md. tradition getting out of hand?

The Tetsuo statue in front of UMD's library after offerings including a small car and a washing machine were removed.
"The bigger the sacrifice you give to Testudo the more luck you have, so you always give a gift during exams," said UMD senior Taylor Hilderbrand.
"I've never seen medicine bottles. This is a new thing I've never seen before," said UMD senior Sophia Ridge.
The Tetsudo statue, as documented in a Reddit post this past weekend.
A washing machine was left as a good luck offering to Tetsudo.

For decades, students at the University of Maryland have made playful sacrifices to the Testudo statue in front of the library, hoping for a little extra luck on their final exams. Over the years, you may have seen anything from pens and notebooks to coffees and alcohol set up around the statue overlooking McKeldin Mall.

But sometimes, things have gotten out of hand, and that seems to be the case once again in College Park.

“I’ve seen a car,” said senior Taylor Hilderbrand.

Sorry, come again?

“Like a four door, just little car, yeah,” she said. “I saw a washing machine and couch as well.”

“I’ve seen street signs, I’ve seen fake IDs, empty bottles,” added senior Sophia Ridge. She looked over at the statue and noticed a cluster of empty orange vials. “I’ve never seen medicine bottles. This is a new thing I’ve never seen before.”

But school leaders aren’t laughing. On Monday afternoon, a letter was sent out to students warning them to reconsider some of the items being left.

“Many items placed have involved vandalism and theft of property. These actions have damaged university and private property, blocked sidewalks, and could cause harm,” wrote Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students Andrea Goodwin. “These actions have placed an additional burden on our hard-working and dedicated Facilities Management and Residential Facilities staff, who are tasked with the removal and repair duties.”

She also warned that both school and campus police are working to identify some of the students involved in what’s dubbed “inappropriate behavior” in recent weeks.

“Individuals found responsible for damaging property or creating a hazard will be held accountable and sanctioned accordingly,” said Goodwin.

This is finals week at Maryland, and the school acknowledged that students might be more stressed out as exams wrap up.

“The bigger the sacrifice you give to Testudo, the more luck you have, so you always give a gift during exams,” said Hilderbrand.

And, she said it’s worked for her, as she gets ready to graduate in the coming days. She also said that the school is keeping a closer eye on the statue at night, to make sure things don’t get any further out of hand.

Mireia Gonzales-Ycern, who was taking graduation photos, said it’s understandable the school would respond this way.

“Those who have to clean it up, it can be a hassle and I wouldn’t want to go through that myself,” she said.

“When I leave something, it’s in good fun,” said Hilderbrand. “I’ve never left anything crazy like a couch or a car, but I think it’s in good fun. But when it does get piled up, it gets to be a lot.”

“I think it brings the school together and it’s a cool tradition,” Ridge said. But she also countered by adding that “if you’re just going to bring trash, it’s not going to do anything. Actually sacrifice something if you want it to work.”

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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