Claim: A standard college regulation specifies that a student whose roommate commits suicide automatically receive a
- The type of death required to qualify a student for a 4.0 average varies. At different schools it is said that a roommate’s murder, accidental death, violent death, slow drawn-out death (such as cancer), or death
from any cause is covered by the regulation. Murdering one’s own roommate does not qualify, however.
- Not all versions specify that a roommate must die. Some variations of the legend maintain that the death of a parent or other close relative, or any person who is important in the student’s life, also qualifies.
- Some versions also add extra provisions, such as “death must occur in the room or with the roommate” or “death must occur during the last six weeks of term.” A student who does not witness his roommate’s death receives only a
3.4 average;survivors each receive a 3.5 averageif the deceased had more than one roommate.
- The “reward” received by the surviving roommate is not always a
4.0 average.Some versions award only a 3.0 average,or an alternate “prize” such as first choice in the next dormitory “room draw.” Alternatively, some versions specify that a dead roommate entitles one to free tuition that year.
Origins: Although many schools will offer some sort of bereavement consideration under exceptional circumstances, no college or university in the United States has a policy awarding a
- This legend formed the basis of two 1998 films, Dead Man on Campus and Dead Man’s Curve.
- In an episode of “The Simpsons” (broadcast 19 November 2000), after Lisa is believed to have died, Principal Skinner tells Bart he will be receiving straight A’s.
- On NBC’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (episode title “Art”; original air date
7 October2001), when detectives find that a suspect received credit for passing all her college classes even though she was assigned no grades, the school registrar informs them that per “school policy” the student had been given a pass that semester because her roommate committed suicide.
- On “CSI: NY” (episode title “”Some Buried Bones”; original air date
7 February2007), a student under pressure to do well at school murders his roommate and tries to frame somebody else for the deed in an attempt to garner an automatic 4.0.
|Hollywood Discovers an Apocryphal Legend (The Chronicle of Higher Education)|
Last updated: 9 June 2011
Bennett, Gillian and Paul Smith. A Nest of Vipers. Sheffield: Univ. of Sheffield Press, 1990. ISBN 1-85075-256-7 (pp. 69-76). Bronner, Simon J. Piled Higher and Deeper. Little Rock: August House, 1990. ISBN 0-87483-154-7 (pp. 32-33). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Curses! Broiled Again! New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ISBN 0-393-30711-5 (pp. 295-298). Dickson, Paul and Joseph Gouldon. Myth-Informed. New York: Perigee Books, 1993. ISBN 0-399-51839-8. (p. 62). Reisberg, Leo. “Hollywood Discovers an Apocryphal Legend.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 11 September 1998.