Not to be cunicnl, but..
Rooftop Christmas trees, or lacktiiereof
Not to brag, but I’m quite the ac
complished practical joker. At my first
job, some friends of mine and I stole
the assistant manager’s desk and hid
it, leaving everything that had been on
the desk arranged neatly on the floor,
making it appear as if the desk had sim
ply melted into the ground.
My senior year of high school, I
stuffed the ballot box for homecoming
queen in my favor. They caught me
because I’d numbered the backs of the
My love of practical jokes was
one reason I so looked forward to go
ing to college. I’d had fiendish fanta
sies of leading mules up the Bell Tower,
rebuilding cars on top of the Belk Cen
ter and releasing rodents in to the of
fices of my least favorite professors.
I was to discover when I got here
that mules are fairly hard to acquire, no
one really wants to volunteer their car
for such an adventure and most fac
ulty nwmbers haverodentS'in theirof*
fices without any student participation.
Not only that, but college pranks
seem to be almost completely out of
style, especially at St. Andrews. Any
one who has ever taken a Neal
Bushoven class has heard him lemi-
nisce about the glor\' days of mischief
when students chainsawed down his
door, fixed their motorcycles in the suite
bathrooms and stole the Christmas tree
from the Belk main lounge.
(They mystified the campus po
lice, who’d failed to notice the subtle six
foot wide trail of pine needles leading
from Belk to Mecklenburg that was the
only sign they’d ever been there.)
1 hear these stories and wonder.
“What about us?” I’m a sophomore,
and Neal hasn’t been given any new sto
ries to tell while I’ve been here. Why
can’t we steal some Christmas trees or
chainsaw some doors down?
The best pranks don’t just make
administrators roll their eyes. They
show intelligence and planning, as well
as an irreverent outlook on the world.
It’s no coincidence that the two great
est prank schools in America, and I as
sume the world, are Caltech and MIT.
(MIT has a webpage devoted to student
pranks at http://fishwrap.mit.edu/
Hacks/Galleiy.heml)3 i i ,i )• . :
I did an informal survey in the
hallway one afternoon, asking various
people what they thought was behind
the lack of pranks. Most blamed it on
the freshman class, but when I pointed
out that there hadn’t been any pranks
last year, they suggested that students
either didn’t have enough time or felt
the administration/campus police were
Of course, rebelling against au
thority is what pranks are usually about.
It’s easy to make a connection be
tween the small number of pranks and
the small amount of political activism.
They both suggest a reluctance to get
involved and an indifference about the
world that’s kind of depressing.
After all, last year a petition pro
testing the loss of the winter term went
around and got 350 signatures. A lot of
students liked the winter term and
wanted to keep it. But aside from a few
questions asked in student forums, a
few articles written in the Lance and the
people who made the petition and took
it around to people themselves, the stu
dents did very little to try and stop the
changeover. And this year’s winter term
will be our last.
,, The only thing around that could
even be, considered a mild protest is
painting the wall, and that’s condoned
by the administration to the point that
the wall is painted over every few weeks
so that the next group of radicals might
express their views in an orderly man
I asked Dr. Laura Arwood (who
happened to be teaching the first class 1
had after I started writing this,) what she
thought about the lack of student activ
ism and she responded that the problem
was apathy and it wasn’t limited to St.
Andrews. She pointed out that America
has the lowest voter turnout in the in
“I’m convinced the secret to rais
ing voter turnout is to give out free do
nuts. If the Red Cross didn’t give out
snacks, they’d have two donors, and
one of them would be Bill Alexander”
One thing that has contributed
to our malaise is the fact that one could
get sued for many of the things that were
once considered pranks, such as tipping
over an outhouse with someone inside.
It’s not easy to be a troublemaker
in the 90’s. I learned this the hard way
as my little stunt with the homecoming
queen election got me the honor of be
coming the only person in Fairfax county
to get an honor code violation for “elec
tion fraud” that year.
Our litigious society wrongs us
once again. But I don’t think one is
likely to see students making signs