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Campus & Community

Pranks for the Memories

On April Fool’s Day, Our List of the 5 Best Pranks in Campus History

By Carly Taylor ’19

Missing Testudo

Photo courtesy of University Archives

In an early string of pranks, Testudo was stolen 12 times between 1933 and 1948.

Put away the rolls of plastic wrap, stacks of Post-it Notes and plastic tarantulas. Terps trick better than that. In fact, the University of Maryland is home to some of the best-known pranks ever pulled on a college campus. This April Fool’s Day, we took a trip back in time (and through University Archives, yearbooks and news accounts) to find some of the most outrageous, original or well-executed classic gags committed on this campus:

Hopkins thiefs

Thefts of the original Testudo statue

Before the iconic bronze Testudo statue was moved from Ritchie Coliseum to its current home in front of McKeldin Library, he did quite a bit of traveling for a turtle. The 400-pound gift from the Class of 1933 was stolen 12 times in 15 years and was found as far away as Florida, according to The Diamondback. At least three times, the thieves hailed from Johns Hopkins University, where Testudo was recovered from a dorm and an athletic field. After 15 years of this nonsense, the university had the mascot filled with cement and housed at a site where he couldn’t be abducted so easily. For more details, read the University Archives’ Terrapin Tales blog entry on Testudo’s misadventures. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

Cow in an elevator

Around 4 a.m. on March 8, residents of the all-female Centreville Hall discovered a 700-pound heifer on the eighth floor. The cow, named Sharon, was reportedly nervous about being transported via elevator—evinced by the mess she left on the residence hall’s floors—but was unharmed. The culprits who cow-napped her from her stall at the Campus Farm were not identified. “It was a bit of a job to get it haltered and led down the elevator and back to the dairy barn,” Vic Metta, one of the rescuers, later told Terp magazine. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)

Streaking through campus

The practice of running naked in public was popular in the late 1960s and 1970s, but it was reportedly named here at the University of Maryland. A Washington TV reporter watching a mass nude run on campus in 1973 said, “They are streaking past me right now! It’s an incredible sight!” according to an article in The Week.  Photos from the incident made it into the 1974 Terrapin yearbook, accompanied by condemning comments from the university’s acting vice chancellor, William Thomas. (Photo courtesy of University Archives)
Half-court shot

Half-court shot that wasn’t

College comedians Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld were already known for their longstanding prank war when they got Terps basketball fans in on the action. Blumenfeld was watching the game on March 4 when he was brought to half-court at half-time, blindfolded and told that he’d win $500,000 if he could make a basket. Seconds later, 18,000 people in the stands began to wildly cheer, and Blumenthal ran around the court in euphoria. Only then did Seidell break the news that he air-balled and had told the crowd beforehand to cheer no matter the outcome. Blumenfeld’s switch from delight to good-natured despair is worth watching. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
Kermit degree

Caribbean campus for Maryland Smith

The Robert H. Smith School of Business on April 1 formally announced its plans to open a school in the Caribbean in 2020. “Marylanders hate the lingering cold that plagues the supposedly southern state come February and March, so this tropical location is sure to be a huge draw for Smith students in every program,” school officials wrote. Readers excited to view the full story instead were brutally “Rick-rolled”—redirected to a music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Other jokes the school put out that day as “news” included Kermit the Frog accepting an honorary MBA degree, and the launch of a faculty fight club.(Photo courtesy of Robert H. Smith School of Business)

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