April Fools' Pranks a Hit throughout Campus and Media

by Ryan Dougherty

A team of College engineering students extended the Crum Creek Meander installation into Sharples Dining Hall.

College community members trudging toward Parrish Hall did a double take Tuesday morning - since when did the Crum Creek Meander installation extend into Sharples Dining Hall?

Adding intrigue was an "awareness bulletin" from the Swarthmore College Engineers advising that Crum Creek had overflowed into Sharples Dining Hall, whose main dining room was split with 10-by-10-foot sheets of clear plastic.

Some patrons picked up on the gag right away and smiled, while others - who, to be fair, may not have had their coffee yet - lingered with puzzled expressions.

"The most rewarding part was seeing everyone's amazement," says Noah Weinthal '15, one of the prank's masterminds. "When people look at it wondering how on earth we pulled that off in such a short amount of time, that's the mark of a Swarthmore Engineers' prank."

The Crum Creek extension proved the first of many April Fools' pranks at the College, eliciting overwhelmingly positive responses from community members, other institutions, and all manners of media.

One highlight was the announcement that Swarthmore was dropping the first "r" from its name to "fix 150 years of pronunciation confusion," in honor of the College's sesquicentennial. The change necessitated the updating of the College's home page and social media platforms, as well as prompted a video of Phineas Phoenix getting in on the action.

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The gag generated a record-breaking number of shares on the College's Facebook page along with more than 200 likes and dozens of Twitter favorites and retweets. Lehigh University congratulated the College on the change, kidding that its proposal of "LeHigh" didn't fly, while Reed College proclaimed itself "Reedier" through acquiring Swarthmore's discarded "r." 

The Philadelphia Business Journal gave the College "props for creativity," while the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out the incongruity of a college with "such a strong history of decision by consensus" making such a move in haste, while conceding "the gimmick certainly attracted a lot of attention." Indeed, the story and video also appeared on three local news channels that night. 

Among other April Fools' celebrants:

The Daily Gazette's top stories included an "Investigative Report: Where Are All the Attractive People?", "Director Mike Hill Fires all of PubSafe, Declares Himself 'The Law'", and "Jim Bock '90: I AM the Admissions Mistake."

  • Julia Chartove '14, Ray Lefco '15, and Brad Carter '15 brought the Doge meme to campus 
  • The libraries took their website retro
  • Members of Information Technology Services dressed like their boss, Joel Cooper, and altered their staff bio photos

The College Engineers get the "A" for effort, however, with its team of 15 students working over the course of 17 hours to extend the Crum Creek installation by 200 feet.

"We had everyone from freshman prospective majors to seniors working together in the shop to fabricate each piece," says Weinthal, "which was great to see."

The seniors wanted to go out with an April Fools' prank that would "not only be enjoyed, but remembered," says David Nahmias '14, "and I believe we accomplished that."

The gag even drew kudos from the installation's creator, artist Stacy Levy.

"This is so wonderfully hilarious," she said, "and the engineers really got their plastic to fly!"