Monday, Sep. 08, 2008

Pranking Pride

Correction Appended: Nov. 24, 2008

Harvard and Yale's annual gridiron face-off on Nov. 22 is a big deal for more than one set of storied college rivals. 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. Today, Caltech maintains an earmarked prank fund, supported by alumni donations, to help its Prank Club from getting out-hoaxed by the MIT Hacks. The bicoastal competition is the geeky version of working things out on the football field, and the resulting pranks — whether Harvard is involved or not — have made for some of the best college lore there is.

The original story said MIT maintained an alumni-supported prank fund. It is Caltech that supports its pranks with donations from former students.