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Seven College Pranks

You know all about student pranks – greased pigs in the cafeteria, cows being led upstairs, all of that juvenile stuff.  Maybe you’ve even heard about the more complicated college stunts – when M.I.T. students erected a police car on the top of the school’s Great Dome, for example.  Its license plate number was pi.  Anyway, here are a few lesser-known student stunts.  If you’re, um, “inspired” by some of these, I claim no fault… but be sure to take pictures.  

Harry Potter and the Scheming Students


In 2007, M.I.T. students pulled two pranks of smaller proportions to commemorate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Since we’re just a couple of days away from the latest movie, I thought it would be appropriate to mention them.  The first appeared a couple of days before the final book came out: a broomstick parking area, complete with broomsticks and appropriate signage, appeared in the Student Street area of the Strata Center.  Then on the day of the actual release is my favorite: the Death Eaters acknowledged their presence at the school by setting off an eerie, glowing green Dark Mark on the roof of the Student Center.  Awesome.  This gives me an idea for Halloween… Photo from Eric Schmiedl.

Screwy Scoreboards

Caltech is M.I.T.'s biggest rival in pranks, despite being located at opposite ends of the country. They often take potshots at one another and are especially prone to pranks at football games. Although the Great Rose Bowl prank is pretty well known, another football stunt occurred when Caltech wasn't even playing. During the 1964 Washington vs. Illinois Rose Bowl game, the audience of 100,000 was rather bored by a somewhat lackluster game. That is, until they looked up and realized that someone had changed the electronic scoreboard to make it appear as if Caltech was putting the hurt on M.I.T. It happened again in 1984 - although the teams were UCLA and Illinois (again), it appeared as if Caltech was stomping M.I.T., 31-9.

"We Suck"


During the Harvard-Yale game of 2004, some students took the Great Rose Bowl Prank to the next level. In case you didn't click the Rose Bowl Prank link above, the story goes something like this: Caltech students handed out a bunch of colored placards to the opposing team and told them that when flipped over at a specified time, it would spell out the name of their team. It didn't, of course, it spelled out "Caltech." Yale students repeated this stunt by handing out similar placards to a group of Harvard students and alumni. When they flipped the cards, which they thought would say "GO HARVARD," it actually spelled out "WE SUCK." Photo from Yale Daily News

In Cod We Trust


Another one from our friends over at the Museum of Hoaxes - the theft of the Massachusetts Sacred Cod. Yes, Massachusetts has a sacred cod, and they really refer to it as such. The pine likeness is about five feet long and can be found hanging over the entrance to the House of Representatives chamber in the Massachusetts State House - at least, that's where it is usually found. In 1933, staff at the Harvard Lampoon decided that the fish was theirs. They simply walked into the State House with clippers and a flower box, snipped the Cod down when no one was looking, hid it in the flower box and strolled on out of there like they owned the place. After a couple of days of drama - allegedly the river was even dragged - the Harvard Chief of Police received a tip that he should show up on a certain road at a certain time and follow a certain car. He did, and when the car pulled into a forest, two disguised men jumped out, handed him the Cod, and fled. Photo from MassMoments.org

Rooftop Ride


Pranks aren't limited to U.S. schools, of course. In June of 1958, Cambridge, England, woke up to find an Austin Seven sitting on top of the Senate House like it was in the middle of a skyward road trip. It took a week for firefighters, police and civil defense units to figure out how to get the thing down - in the end, they decided just to take it apart piece by piece. And the really great thing about the whole prank is that the perpetrators were never caught. That is, until 2008. Fifty years later, 9 of the 12 guys who participated in the prank had a reunion dinner and told the press how they did it. In the middle of the night, they hitched it up to the roof using a makeshift crane of steel cable and scaffolding pieces. Although they had never revealed their identities, the then-Dean suspected the group of men and had a case of champagne sent to them to congratulate them on such an amazing prank. Click the link for a diagram of how they pulled the stunt off. Photo from the Daily Mail.

Rice Gets More Comfortable


In 1988, a group of students at Rice decided that the 2,000 pound statue of William Marsh Rice would probably prefer to face the library instead of having his back to it. So, obviously, they moved it. After a couple of botched attempts, the pranksters got serious. They got plans of the statue from the library to figure out the exact weight, then built some A-frames with one-ton hoists on either side. After practicing with a Toyota a couple of times, they got the hang of things and headed to campus to give Mr. Rice a better view. They were caught moving the A-Frames across campus by some cops, but managed to convince them that they were part of a senior project. They successfully moved the statue, but one of them, Patrick Dyson, was caught and made to pay the cost of moving William back to his rightful position, which for some reason was going to cost up to five times as much as it cost to get him in the new spot. Students rallied behind Dyson, designing t-shirts that said "Where there's a Willy, there's a way," and raised more than enough money to turn Rice back around. Photo from Rice.edu.

Fictional Facebook Fox


Here's a prank in keeping with our social media-obsessed society. There's a moral to this one too, if you're inclined to find one. In 2006, USC basketball player Gabe Pruitt (he's a Celtic now) was the star during a game against UC Berkeley. He had been cultivating a, um, "relationship" with a girl named Victoria from UCLA - he met her over Facebook and not face to face, but they had been IMing and she sent him pictures. The only problem? She wasn't real. When Pruitt got up to shoot a free throw, Cal fans started chanting, "Victoria! Victoria!" and promptly followed that up with Pruitt's personal cell phone number, which he had given to the fictional Victoria. They kept it up for the whole game and Pruitt ended up shooting 3 for 13. There are nine other college sports pranks over at SI.com if you're interested, including the somewhat sordid history of poor Tommy Trojan over at UCLA. Photo from BigGreenMachine.


Sydney University - late sixties or early seventies. Roadworks near campus. Phone call to local Police station. " A bunch of students disguised as workers are digging up the road " Someone tips off the roadworkers, telling them " A group of students disguised as police are coming down here to cause trouble " Sit back and enjoy mayhem. Probably apocryphal but funny.
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What about Harvey Mudd appropriating the Caltech Cannon from in front of Fleming Hall, in broad daylight? (with CalTech failing to do the proper load studies in getting it back)

What about MIT's subsequent "re-stealing" of the cannon, and transportation across the country, without being caught?
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What about Caltech changing the world-famous Hollywood sign to say Caltech? One of the students involved got a call from his mom in Scottland only hours after it was unveiled! That's how famous it was!
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/1339006806053271124rijELG
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My school is all about pranks at the end of every year. The graduating class always finds something to pull that doesn't make the teachers life seem so much worse, and have little to nothing to clean up. But is always a blast!
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See what some witty law students did this year at the University of Michigan Law School Library!

http://www.law.umich.edu/highlights/Documents/sharks.html
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If you're going to tell your readers to read an article, you should at least read it yourself first.
The prank that Cal Tech pulled at the Rose Bowl with the Cal Tech sign was in a game that was Minnesota vs. Washington. They didn't hand out the signs, the broke into a hotel room, and changed all the instructions for the signs that the Washington cheerleaders were already going to hand out. That way, the Washington cheerleaders started their routine, and everything went well for the first 11 images, and then the Cal Tech prank took effect.
It looks like you tried to do research, but didn't actually read the information you found.
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Re the "We Suck" hack: You missed the intermediate step between Caltech's placard hack and Yale's. At the 1982 Harvard-Yale game, a group of MITers disguised as Harvard students passed out placards to the Harvard sections telling them it'd spell "Beat Yale" when they actually spelled "MIT". We didn't get as much notice as we might have due to two factors; 1) that was also the year the DKEs did the infamous "weather balloon with MIT written all over it inflating from a device buried under the field during the second quarter" hack which got the majority of coverage and 2) our rewiring of the sound system for a full halftime show failed (oddly enough, we later learned several other groups also tried to rewire it, and likely the various rewirings managed to cancel each other out). Still the Harvard folk spontaneously held up the placards whenever Harvard scored..and they scored a lot that game.

After I heard about the "We Suck", I emailed the organizers and asked if they'd heard about our 1982 version. Got a back a reply that they had, and that it'd been a good thing that they had. Because of that knowledge, they went to extra effort to counterfeit Harvard ids to show dubious alumni, a fair number of whom were still paranoid about people claiming to be Harvard students handing them placards 20+ years later due to our hack.
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My dad and his buddies allegedly disassembled the Chem Prof's Model A over spring break back in the early 40's and reassembled it in his second floor classroom. I will never be as cool as him.
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Small scale, but still clever ... a few years ago, the Senior Prank at our local high school involved releasing 3 live chickens in the school ... and telling everyone that 4 had been released.
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not too clever but fun anyways.....while we were freshmen in college, we went around the entire campus for an hour telling every senior we could find that the dean was looking for them.....it was long time before they caught on.....but the line in front of the dean's office was awsome....
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I am amazed this one hasn't gotten a mention yet. In 1997, a large pumpkin was placed atop Cornell's McGraw Tower. It's a very tall tower.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Oct07/pumpkin.anniversary.html
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I don't remember any great pranks when I was at the University of Texas, though while living in Jester, we did get some slides of ants (yes the little things that walk on the ground) and project them on the side of the dorm from our window. Had a nice slide show going for an hour or so one night.

There was the usual bit about putting dorm furniture in the elevator (we had a poker game in one during finals). Some guys would put chairs on top of the elevator for a ride. Not recommended. Though it was interesting to talk to the drunks when they got back from pub crawls. (I was in the elevator last night and talked to God...nobody was there...)

Besides the soap in the University fountains (interspersed with food coloring) it was pretty tame.
Though there was a marijuana plot (one plant) dedicated to the Board of Regents with a little paper sign.

I did hear from a student at the United States Air Force Junior College (what you called the AF Academy if you didn't graduate) that they moved the F-104 that was on their quad a few times. First time it was done, the AF in its wisdom brought in a crane, lots of engineers and put it back. After the second and third time the super finally declared and amnesty if they would show how it was done. Now the AF spent days moving it and this prank was done overnight. About 50 cadets looked at each other, shrugged, and marched over to the airplane, lifted it up, tilted the wings and got it through the barricade.

And like legions of students, pulled one over the administration.

College: an institution of higher learning where you learn to shoot tennis balls out of coke cans with lighter fluid. Fill soda machines with beer.
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or those who dont want to click on the link again... "Sydney University - late sixties or early seventies. Roadworks near campus. Phone call to local Police station. " A bunch of students disguised as workers are digging up the road " Someone tips off the roadworkers, telling them " A group of students disguised as police are coming down here to cause trouble " Sit back and enjoy mayhem. Probably apocryphal but funny."
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