Now It Can Be Told

Now that I’ve left Texas State University’s employ, there are a couple other pranks that my partner-in-crime Jeff Snider and I pulled that can be made public.

Prank the First

Texas State University wrestles with something of an institutional inferiority complex. This is caused by the fact that it used to have a reputation as one of the biggest party schools in Texa,s and that it’s just down the road from the similarly named, but even more enormous, University of Texas. Whenever we attended conferences, we had to explain to people that shouting “Hook ‘Em!” at us was actually something of a hostile gesture.

As part of its image rehabilitation, the marketing department began heavily pushing its new “Rising Star of Texas” slogan — verbiage that many of us thought still sent a disappointingly weak message. But they were committed to it, and plastered it on everything they possibly could, including the screen that came up on our conference room projectors while they warmed up.

One day, while sitting in the conference room, I had a thought: “If these projectors can be customized to display the logo and this unfortunate slogan, they can also be customized to display something else.” A bit of quick googling yielded a PDF manual for the projectors, which explained in detail what one needed to do to make the change. Bingo.

So Jeff and I got the University Logo, sucked it into Photoshop, did a little editing, and made a guerilla run to the conference rooms around our floor. Now, when the projectors are powering up, they proudly display the Texas State logo, but with a different caption than usual:

A Great Plan B…

It’s pretty subtle, as the projectors get brighter as they warm up, but it’s definitely enough to catch if you’re paying attention. (Which most people apparently aren’t, as this one has been in place for over a year.)

Prank the Second

There is an architectural model that the University commissioned at some point in its history, presumably to show off the planned construction of some building or another. Since the cost of such things is substantial, the University has chosen to keep it on display in the first floor of the library where I worked. It is covered with a plexiglass box that is secured to the base of the model by nothing more than its own weight and gravity.

Since we often had to be in late at night for various maintenance activities, we took advantage of the opportunity to place all sorts of things in the model with the tiny cars and people that normally inhabit it: miniature rubber chickens, a jet fighter, a Millenium Falcon, etc. (The Falcon was especially gratifying, as it remained illegally parked in one of the car lots for several months.)

Our coup de grace, however, was a full-scale dinosaur invasion that took place one night:

This one, alas, only stayed in place for two days. It was, however, widely appreciated. Jeff was particularly pleased when, a day after the dinos has been removed, he saw a student coming down the stairs, looking over expectantly at the model, seeing that it was now dinosaur-free, and letting out a disappointed “Awwwwwww!”

These sorts of things increased my enjoyment of my tenure at the University significantly. But there was one prank that we pulled as a parting gift to my bosses of which I’m especially proud, and which I will write about soon. Stay tuned…