Give a man a fishing rod and he’ll eat for a lifetime, goes the proverb. Well, give a student three reams of cling film and she’ll laugh until graduation...
University pranks are an art form; don’t let anyone tell you any different. A good prank requires a lot of time, effort and inspiration – the ultimate in exam and assignment procrastination. And because of this, university pranks can foster a sense of community and sportsmanship and provide a common goal that brings fellow students together. This common goal may simply be to cover the entirety of your best friend’s room in tin foil, but this doesn’t make university pranks any less heart-warming.
April Fools’ Day or not, here are a few of the wildest, downright scurrilous and classic university pranks to have happened in recent history:
The College of Brarchitecture
Although 40 years since this prank went down in history, the installation of a huge bra atop Texas A&M University’s academic building is still widely regarded as one of the best university pranks in the state. The prank was committed by artist-in-residence at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, Dick Wray, and his accomplice Scott Smith in 1973, with the idea being to just “see what would happen”. “The campus police arrived within 30 minutes,” said Smith. “As far as I recall there were no charges, as there was no damage or harm done. The police were friendly and somewhat amused.”
The Library Flash Mob
You have to take your hat off to the students of the University of North Carolina for braving the wrath of the librarians with this massive flash mob. Over 3,000 students armed with 1,000 glow sticks and fierce, fist-pumping UNC patriotism packed into the university campus library in a bid to relieve exam stress. I’d say they did pretty well. Especially those naked crowd surfers.
Cambridge Car Carry On
Not to be upstaged on anything, including university pranks, Cambridge University excels in both originality and difficulty with this perplexing car on roof prank from 1958. It took a week to get the car down from the Senate House building on campus and left officials scratching their heads for months afterwards. The people responsible, along with their ringleader Peter Davey, have since attained somewhat legendary status within the school. Read more about the prank here.
Engineering Exam Sing-A-Long
Less a prank, more of a well-pulled-off stunt. These University of Toronto students stood up to their engineering finals and said “You know what tests need? More musical numbers” – and then belted out an altered version of the song “One Day More” from the hit musical Les Misérables, changing the lyrics to “One Test More”. See what they did there? Genius. And who said faculty members can’t be involved in April Fools' Day frivolities? They like a joke as much as the next person.
The Infuriating Classic
No one can deny that bubbles bring joy to the world. This is presumably the thought process of all culprits ever to have bought a bulk pack of washing soap and dumped it in the fountains on their university campuses. I mean, who has ever frowned in the face of a mass explosion of bubbles? The campus maintenance people, that’s who. I don’t mean to burst your bubbles, but this is perhaps one of the most annoying university pranks you could pull; it can take weeks to clean up and can also cause expensive damages to the fountain.
So, you may want to think twice before sneaking off campus to spend $50 on detergent.
This is another classic among university pranks, if only because students have obviously utilized what they had on hand at the time: hundreds of solo cups and hours of spare time. Perhaps the best thing to note about the cups prank is that if you fill each cup up with water, it’s a million times more difficult for your victim to clean their room up afterwards.
The Small but Mighty
Remember how easy and fun it was to make cress when you were 10 years old? It will literally grow anywhere warm and slightly damp… and so, the over-worked, coffee sodden library keyboards offer the perfect conditions. All you need to do is buy the seeds, sow them furtively beneath the keys and wait a couple of days for sprouting. Marvel at the tears of wonder on the librarians’ faces. On second thought, maybe they’re tears of anger…
N.B. You might want to think twice about doing the same to a friend’s laptop. No one’s going to thank you for that.
So, what are you waiting for? Get pranking! Just make sure you remember to lock your bedroom door before heading to lectures this April Fools' Day.
This article was originally published in March 2014 and updated in March 2017.
Picture credit: Bubbles in fountain (Geograph)