Lecture Hall Pranks – blogUT

As I walked by Con Hall yesterday I couldn’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic and reminiscent about my first year at U of T.

Con Hall was the venue for most of my classes first year and it served as my daily reminder that I wasn’t in high school anymore.

Con Hall’s thousand-person seating was a huge contrast to my 30-person high school classes, and  the biggest adjustment for me was getting used to the anonymity that comes with being a only a speck of sea foam among an ocean of people.

Inside con hall no one knows if you are paying attention, if you did the reading or even if you have shown up at all. While I never tried it, you could probably attend a lecture in Con Hall pantsless without anyone raising a fuss (don’t try this).

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “A thousand students packed into a giant cornerless room… This sounds like the ideal setting for a lecture hall prank!” (and if you weren’t thinking that, keep it to yourself because this is the only segue I could think of).

Despite Con Hall’s glaringly obvious prank potential (which you were all totally thinking about), I have yet to witness a truly awesome Con Hall lecture prank. As my time at U of T comes to a close, I worry I may never see one.

Before we go any further, let’s get something out of the way. I can’t condone lecture hall pranks. I’m not encouraging anyone to go out there and mix it up or stick it the man. I looked in the University of Toronto code of conduct and I’m pretty sure pranks are against the rules. Also by very explicitly stating right here: “I DO NOT CONDONE LECTURE HALL PRANKS AND AM IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH ANY TOMFOOLERY THAT OCCURS”. My vast team of lawyers assures me that I’m now off the hook.

But while I can’t condone them, I don’t understand why so many people are against them.

Most people are “anti-prank” for two main reasons, both which I have to say I disagree with.

The first reason many have for being against pranking is that “pranks are disruptive to academic learning.”

On some level you’re right. A prank is disruptive and distracting, but a proper prank should only last a few minutes. A prank that goes on any longer is awkward and annoying but a truly funny idea gives everyone a little chuckle before getting back to work. Obviously, if they happened every day they would be annoying as hell, but once or twice a year? In my mind it seems harmless.

A good, short and timely prank probably probably wouldn’t even annoy a professor that much. Of course, that really depends on the professor.

I’ve heard of prof’s that have a good sense of humor about pranks and some professors even conduct pranks themselves:

Conversely, I heard about a physics professor named Bruce Banner who when interrupted by a group of rambunctious pranksters turned lime green and screamed “professor SMASH!” before going on a rampage throughout the city in what everyone agreed was a tad bit of an over reaction. So it really depends on the prof, which is something you should really take into account before you bust into your lecture hall wearing a tutu and firing a nerf gun.

The other reason most people are “anti prank” is because U of T is a serious institution of higher learning and no place for cheeky pranksters.

What would our proud school’s founders say about pranks?(note: this is just a guy with a monocle but close enough)

Well, to this I say:

a) Tell that to MIT, because it seems like they never got the “cheeky pranksters” memo. MIT pranks are legendary, and they think of crazier and crazier ones every year. Look at this picture! Some of their pranks involve putting trucks on the top of buildings. I don’t even now how they pulled it off! But no, no, please get on your high horse and ride back to Massachusetts, we can’t have this sort of rambunctious behavior going on at a place like U of T, now can we?

This actually probably impressed future employers

So after you’re done scolding MIT students while simultaneously operating a crane to get that truck down, be sure not to put your high horse into the stables for the night, because you should probably ride back over here and tell this “no pranking” thing to our very own Engineering students, U of T. Because pranks are an engineering tradition and I’ve heard plenty of stories about them all around campus! If you don’t believe me,  check this out.

So get off your high horse and feed it some oats because it seems pranks and serious learning can, and do, go hand in hand all the time.

Still not convinced?

Take a look at some of the best pranks I could find on Youtube from other schools.

Other schools have ninja attacks…

awesome “Ghost Busters” remakes…

…and my personal favorite, kids with typewriters.

This kid brought a typewriter to class! (This line is completely worthless to my overall point, but I felt the emphasis was necessary.)

So as you can see, while U of T can match almost any school in a myriad of ways, we seem to be getting destroyed in the field of lecture hall pranks. Less funding goes to this than at any other school.

U of T is a hallowed institution with a lot of history. As students and future alum, we have many achievements to be proud of. At royal dinners and cocktail parties we can puff out our chests out and say “U of T was the birthplace of insulin and stem cell research,” but when the conversation steers towards awesome lecture hall pranks (and they always do, of course), we will become mysteriously silent and morose. Countless U of T graduates suffer from the intense social stigma that comes from being associated with a humorless university. Many of them have no choice but to fake their own death and begin new lives in secluded mountain villages in Ecuador.

But let’s get back on topic.

The only way to keep a prank fun and harmless is by following these three rules:

Don’t hurt anybody, don’t make anyone cry, and don’t insult or embarrass people. Doing any of these just makes you a jerk.

Don’t actually interrupt the lecture for too long. Not to sound like a nerd, but a lot of people (and the prof) are gonna hate you for it.  Pop in like Kool Aid man and disappear just as quickly.

And finally, don’t copy an idea you saw on YouTube. Think of one that you can proudly put on YouTube yourself (and then put it on YouTube).

Overall, with or without lecture hall pranks, learning and fun can go hand in hand. U of T is full of smart and creative people, and sometimes due to workload and the overbearing amount of people in introductory classes, it can be easy to forget that sometimes it’s okay to have a a couple laughs while also working your butt off.

UPDATE: SKULE broke the U of T prank dry spell with their epic “Worst Test Prank!”

And UTM contributed with this sweet serenading number:

Let’s hope for more pranks to come.

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