Don’t Step on the “B”

Informant KS is a 19 year-old USC freshman from San Jose, California.


It is a custom for students of a certain private, Catholic high school to avoid stepping on the logo of the school — a circular emblem with a “B” in the center which is printed on the ground — or risk being beat up by seniors.


KS attended a private, Catholic high school which was founded over 150 years ago.

KS: “I actually found out about this tradition when I was very young, maybe ten years old. I attended summer camps at the school, and ‘Don’t step on the ‘B” is one of the first things you learn about if you ever come to campus. The basic idea behind it is there’s a logo in the center of campus that has a ‘B.’ It’s a circular logo. And the rumor was that if you stepped on the ‘B’ and there were seniors nearby, they had full license to beat you up, since you disrespected the logo of the school. I’m not exactly sure if people do beat other people up over stepping on the ‘B’ given that I’ve never actually seen it happen. I’ve never seen a student step on the ‘B’ before, I’ve only seen an unsuspecting parent do it before, and nobody really had a reaction in that circumstance. I would say this custom is part of one of the many traditions that we have at the school that gives it a bit of character. I guess it ties into a greater respect for the logo and the institution.”


As an institution dating back over 150 years, the private high school which KS attended has accumulated its own folklore in the form of customs such as avoiding the “B.” Since its founding, the folklore developed among students and the growing alumni network served to develop a common culture and camaraderie surrounding those with the experience of attending the high school, which resulted in KS learning about the custom from a young age. While serving as one shared custom that builds camaraderie, the act of avoiding the “B” also further develops a sense of respect and reverence for an old institution. Older definitions of folklore — such as those utilized by German folklorists Johann Gottfried von Herder and the Brothers Grimm — tend to argue that folklore is a practice shared by the common folk and independent of the elite class, yet this custom operates on both levels — as a shared practice among students, and as a means of maintaining the legitimacy of an old institution.