Sex, Lies and Higher Education

On Sunday I finished reading an awesome book about college pranks, “If at all Possible, Involve a Cow”. Even though it was published in 1992, it’s currently out of print and somewhat hard to find. At prices range from $26.50 to $42.50 and there are only 5 books listed. Luckily, I was able to find a copy for $7 thanks to abebooks wishlist service.

I think that the rarity of the books is due to some influence of embarrassed college brass. The book tells stories about students making fun of narrow mindedness and idiocy of administrators and professors in some very prestigious colleges and universities.

Here is an example. If you’ve been to Harvard, you probably have seen the statue of John Harvard. You were also probably told a touching story about students, who rub his boot for luck on the exams (they really don’t, the boot is shined by hordes of visitors). Well, what the guide probably didn’t tell you, is that the statue is commonly known as “Statue of Three Lies”. Why? Because there is an inscription on the pedestal that says:

John Harvard



Lie #1 : John Harvard was a financial contributor, not the founder.
Lie #2 : Foundation date was 1636, not 1638
Lie #3 : Depicted is not John Harvard, of whom no pictures exist, but a friend of the sculptor. To add insult to injury, both the sculptor and his friend graduated from .. You guessed it – MIT!

This makes one of the pranks in the book especially ironic: MIT students created a huge bronze copy of MIT class ring and epoxied it to John Harvard statue’s finger!

Other notable pranks: Harvard Lampoon’s editors hoisting Soviet flag on a flagpole in front of the Supreme Court during McCarthy era, Caltech Rose Bowl hack.