Greatest College Pranks

Having been involved with many great college pranks… even one that eventually lead to my fraternity losing its charter, getting thrown off campus, and being featured on prime time news, I took great interest in learning about some of the classic college pranks throughout history.

Time Magazine recently did a feature on the greatest pranks in history. I thought a few of them were quite bad ass and wanted to share them with you.

In the decades-old prank-off between archrivals MIT and Caltech, disrupting “the Game” has long been a particular point of pride. It’s not their only pranking outlet, of course: tech students have been wreaking havoc wherever they can since at least 1875, when MIT pranksters sprinkled classroom floors with iodide of nitrogen, a mild contact explosive, so their classmates’ feet would set off little fireworks with every step.

I would say that the use of mild explosives qualify them as fairly badass. Anything that could potentially cause a building to burn down has to get some credit as being ballsy.

For MIT hackers, wreaking havoc at the annual Harvard-Yale football game is a point of pride. In 1982, during a timeout, a group of MIT students launched an enormous weather balloon from beneath the turf at the 46-yard line, using a remote triggering system. After hanging in the air for a few moments so the crowd got a good look at the letters “MIT,” the balloon eventually exploded.

Although not nearly as bad ass as using explosives, this prank ranks up there for its ingenuity. Give a few geeks some power and they are capable of some serious stuff.

During Hollywood’s centennial in 2003, Caltech’s Prank Club tackled the famous Hollywood sign with cherry pickers, large sheets of black and white plastic, and duct tape. They hung just enough plastic so that from a distance, the sign appeared to read “Caltech.” “Hollywood is still mad about that,” says Autumn Looijen, author of the prank history, Legends of Caltech III: Techer In the Dark.

This was is pretty good for its mere aspirations. I’m thinking then when Stoute, Pete, and I were in Los Angeles last month we should have rigged the Hollywood sign to say TSB MAGAZINE. (Pete look into that for our next trip)

These pranks were not bad. But I thought some Harvard or MIT students would have been able to come up with something a lot more ingenuous. You can read the other pranks here.


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About Bobby Rio I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences.  For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.

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