When St. Thomas University grad Dempsey Perry was in his first-year at STU, he and a group of friends were walking to McDonald’s after a house party when one of them said they had to pee. But they didn’t find a nearby bush or wait until they reached their destination, they peed on a familiar STU landmark – the Ball of Knowledge.
“We were passing it and one of the guys just said, ‘I got to stop. I got to use the bathroom. You think any of the buildings are unlocked?’ And we had a second-year [student] with us, and he just said, ‘The ball’s right there, man,’” Perry said.
Out of the group of seven or eight, Perry said half of them peed on the ball.
“Obviously you feel like you’re doing something you’re not supposed to,” he said.
“It felt kind of harmless, that’s why I don’t think we felt that bad about it. And it’s something we still laugh about now.”
The Ball of Knowledge is located on the STU campus in the middle of the upper courtyard outside of the amphitheatre.
Christine Campbell graduated from STU last year. She said it’s sad people pee on the Ball of Knowledge because it’s a good place for incoming students to take a photo with their parents.
“You know, you’re going away for university and it was a nice spot to stop,” she said.
“It almost breaks your heart because you know how it’s been treated. But another part of me goes, ‘Oh well, look at the weather we get. It’s probably more than clean.‘”
Campbell said one time after a night of drinking at a friend’s and at the College Hill Social Club, she was walking through campus with her boyfriend at the time when they came across the Ball of Knowledge.
“And he saw this ball and he’s like, ‘I want to pee on it.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He’s like, ‘Can I pee on it?’ I’m like, ‘Well. I mean, I’m just going to keep walking. You can do your own business when you want to.’”
Campbell said she’s heard of women who’ve planned to pee on the ball, but doesn’t know if they went through with it. She said maybe men at STU pee on the ball simply because they want to “[be] a part of the boys who did it at STU.”
“This is definitely born in men,” she said.
Third-year student Travis Flynn said in his first or second week at STU, he knew the Ball of Knowledge by a different name.
“The pee ball or the piss ball,” said Flynn.
Flynn said he’s heard it’s a right of passage or an initiation ritual for students to pee on the ball. While he’s never peed on it himself, he’s seen many others.
“I watched one guy hike all the way up to the upper campus to specifically pee on the ball. There’s a bush or a bathroom quite close to us and he just walked up the hill and he’s like, ‘No, that’s where you go.’”
The University of New Brunswick campus police said in email they’ve never caught anyone peeing on the ball.
“I checked and we do not have records of people urinating on the ‘Ball of Knowledge,’” they said in email.
“I have spoken to some of the staff who advise that they have encountered people who have appeared to be urinating on it, but, they flee when security arrives. For that reason we have not identified anyone who may have done that.”
There is nothing to suggest the Ball of Knowledge has any particular significance on the STU campus. Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s associate vice-president of communications, said in email he didn’t know anything about the history of the ball or that students pee on it.
Flynn said people most likely pee on the Ball of Knowledge because it’s “a big joke.” He said people walk by and admire the round sculpture that’s supposed to represent knowledge, when in reality, it represents a place where a lot of students take a piss.
“A lot of people have urinated on it. It’s more or less just a round urinal.”