A history of pranks on our campus

Hoai Phuong Nguyen, New Editor

On April Fools’ Day, as the tradition goes, selective amounts of harmless pranks are all that’s needed to bring the campus community closer together. Historically, Case Western Reserve University has had our fair share of campus pranks that can be used as a foundation for creative minds to take action when we can get back to normal school years.

Our first honorable mention is the famous series of pranks from Case TV in 2013. Imagine, on a beautiful day, you put on your mask, run around the campus for a breath of fresh air, away from the constant demands of your computer screen. As you round a corner, a student surrounded by video cameras asks if you want to participate in an interview, which you agree to. After a few minutes in, an actor jumps out from behind you, creating a spectacle and scaring you. What you’re imagining right now is exactly what students were experiencing in 2013, omitting the concerns of masks. As their founder Donald Qiao once said, “life is too short to not bring joy to others and to ourselves,” which is exactly the spirit of April Fools’ Day.

Another one-time idea was the Slip ‘N Slide at Kelvin Smith Library in 2004. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide strip, placed in front of the aisles of books in KSL, was accompanied by a customized playlist and dozens of students in bathing suits taking turns to slide across. Instead of water, the Slip ‘N Slide was covered in dish soap. The “performance” was preserved in an unlisted video, however there was no potential of being able to pull this prank in 2021, considering the limitations and guidelines placed at KSL. 

A notable prank that, in actuality, took a lot of effort, was a Y2K prank pulled to celebrate the turning of the year 2000. The creators of the website are now husband and wife: Eric A. Meyer, who specializes in the style sheet language CSS, and Kathryn, who is a Doctor of Nursing. While Eric was the webmaster for CWRU, he made the university website’s main page to look like a 1900’s-era flyer. He also added some Y2K bugs to make the prank more convincing, and went to the university archives to scan some pictures from 1898 to 1900 to put under the “Images of CWRU” feature. Unfortunately, a lot of the images were unusable because nobody knew who took them, so the material wouldn’t pass into the public domain until 2020 or so. 

And finally, our one and only mascot, Spartie. Spartie has been our mascot since the early ’90s and has served our university with distinction. Spartie’s friendly façade is perfect for interacting with guests, pulling silly pranks and being a comic relief for the guests and program directors. Event organizers can request Spartie from the Spartie request form, and the Student Activities and Leadership office has started taking requests since the spring 2021 semester. 

Given the past year full of isolation and tragedies, a little amount of harmless fun with your closest friends may bring us all together. However, noting the definition that “pranks” are “harmless,” remember to be mindful of others as well when having your fun on April Fools’.