Iowa State’s tall tales continue to circulate student body

Kyndal Reimer

It has been rumored that if a student gets hit by a CyRide bus they’ll receive free tuition for the remainder of their college years. Another rumor is that if a student’s roommate were to pass away, they’d receive all As in their classes.

These urban legends have been circling the student body for years. However, both morbid tales are fictitious.

“The rumor regarding a student getting all As if their roommate passes away is 100 percent false, and frankly, a grossly inappropriate thing to make light of,” said Brittney Rutherford, marketing coordinator at the Department of Residence and ISU Dining.

Kipp Van Dyke, assistant dean of students, reflected on how long these myths have been around, even when he was a student himself.

“These are the sort of tales that it’s impossible to narrow down the roots for. They’ve been around forever,” Van Dyke said. “There’s no blanket policy for dealing with these situations. We’re not just going to say ‘Hey, here’s a check,’ but we are going to navigate what it is you need.”

While the university does not offer any academic or financial bonuses in such tragic circumstances, it does offer support and resources for students.

“Mental health is an incredibly important subject,” Rutherford said. “Whether it’s suicide, murder or an accident, death happens, and helping students with the grief process, whatever that looks like, they have our full support in that situation.”

Rutherford said the severity of the situation doesn’t matter, and the university has means to help students cope.

“If anything happens to a student — they break a leg or an arm, a death in their family, a death in their roommates family, or anything of that nature — we are here for them,” Rutherford said. “There are so many ways to support someone when they’re in a crisis.”

The death of a roomate myth, which rose and gained popularity in the mid-1970s, according to a study done by, has been featured in the plots of movies such as “Dead Man on Campus” and “Dead Man’s Curve,” and TV shows such as “The Simpsons,” “Law & Order” and “CSI New York.”

When CyRide drivers were asked if they had heard the tall-tale regarding free tuition in the case that a student gets hit by a bus, the immediate reaction was a laugh. All of the drivers had heard the story before, and most found it humorous that students would be that gullible. The combined answer regarding the existence of such a policy was a unanimous “no.”

“To be fair, urban legends like that are out there and students are bound to play around with them,” Van Dyke said. “However, I would caution people to be sensitive in these tragedies. It wouldn’t be helpful for people in the middle of those tragedies to be questioned about whether or not they’re being compensated for their losses. It’s nothing to joke about.”