In this special double-episode, Ken shares hilarious highlights from last year’s April Fool’s Day around the world. If you’re curious, looking for laughs, or seeking inspiration for your own pranks this April, check out the collection!
Some colleges and universities put real energy into prank media releases, hoax videos, or absurd webpages each April First. Last year, in “Ten Kinds of April Foolery,” we inventoried the basic categories, from minor name changes or new mascots to outrageous infrastructure announcements or bizarre new program offerings. We also analyzed the typical structure: begin with something almost reasonable, build credibility with authoritative sound bytes, pile on the absurdities and puns, and finally (often) deflate the whole hoax. Check out last year’s special at https://youtu.be/v-dSiWr3KHM
On April 1 2016, we carefully monitored thousands of higher ed news releases and video feeds, and here are some of the highlights we found. (This summary doesn’t do the jokes justice at all – watch the episode!)
Thompson Rivers University tweeted that they were dropping the “S” from their name.
Ohio State University’s colours were being renamed “ruby and porpoise.”
The University of Oregon announced an incredible upgrade to their playing field.
SAIT Polytechnic almost unveiled their new visual identity. (But not quite.)
Bryn Mawr College launched a replacement for campus email, Bananagrams.
Biola University Math professor Matthew Weathers got into a tussle with his videotaped self.
Sheridan College announced a new Bachelor of Modern Media Consumption degree.
Lethbridge College unveiled the Canadian Centre for Excellence and Innovation in Northern Hemisphere Coffee Bean Cultivation.
Simon Fraser University released the new Canadian taste sensation, Poutine Lattes.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University announced a partnership between their Farrier program and campus security.
SAIT Polytechnic became an official “Kitty Campus.”
Duke University added a squirrel video to their homepage.
The University of Nottingham built an urban gym for tubby squirrels.
York University’s Glendon Campus announced a new Wildlife Communications program.
Canadian Mennonite University launched a new major in Equestrian Studies.
Acadia University announced that livestock would return to the campus farm.
Iowa’s Luther College added sheep and goats to its grounds crew.
University of Victoria announced mixed results for their interactive petting zoo in the campus library.
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast created dragon eggs.
Oakland University brought grizzly bear cubs to campus.
The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum announced a one-day tribble breeding program.
The University of Saskatchewan held a lottery for a luxury loft on campus.
Durham College got an interdimensional portal.
Langara College’s demolished its famous rock to make room for a park bench.
West Virginia University replaced stone staircases with weatherproof escalators.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison installed pneumatic tubes to bypass elevators.
MacEwan University installed magical staircases.
The University of Glasgow installed a “helter-skelter” inside its historic clock tower.
Oakland University was repurposing miles of underground tunnels.
Dalhousie University announced “Dal-Kea” furniture.
The CERN LHC uncovered music inside the Higgs Boson.
Library & Archives Canada acquired the journals of Wolverine.
Oberlin College replaced student pics with preschoolers.
The University of Rochester went full-on Harry Potter.
Fanshawe College’s library was closing to become a movie theatre and Starbucks.
Best of Show:
The government demanded UK universities rent out underused space to AirBnB guests.
The “Fortunate 500” ranked world universities at completely random.
The University of Florida and Florida State University announced a merger, in the tiny town of Perry.
Virginia Commonwealth University launched their “Tats, not SATs” program, requiring tattoos for admission and graduation.
To watch the originals of any of the videos excerpted in this webcast (at least, those that are still on YouTube), check out our playlist at https://youtu.be/v-dSiWr3KHM?list=PLodJ8ParJmYXiHt5dDGxr-7Vf3-ob87Ko
Last episode, Ken's 10th annual "Year in Review" continued with a look at some of the bigger PR headaches afflicting North American colleges and universities, with a focus on cultural insensitivity and its consequences. (Think Mount St Mary's, Missouri, Yale, Ithaca, and Harvard.) Check out Part I: Budgets & Bunnies at: https://youtu.be/1fnN8QOFrWs
This week, he profiles 2 major PR migraines in more detail, which occurred at UBC and the University of Toronto. Both attracted international media attention, hundreds of articles and blogs, millions of views and outrage on both sides.
At the University of Toronto, Psychology prof Jordan Peterson ignited a firestorm by insisting that, should a gender non-binary student ever ask him to use non-standard pronouns like "ze" or "zir" or even singular "they," he would refuse. He went on to repeat himself ever more loudly, aggressively, and insistently. Opponents called him transphobic and insensitive to human dignity. He called them biology-deniers and left-wing social justice warriors. The debate continues well into 2017.
Jordan Peterson on why pronouns aren’t about respect. Davie Addison. https://youtu.be/EXvU8DEbyAw
Jordan Peterson speaks at University of Toronto protest. Genuinewitty https://youtu.be/HAlPjMiaKdw
Genders, Rights and Freedom of Speech. TVO’s Agenda with Steve Paikin. https://youtu.be/kasiov0ytEc
University of Toronto Free Speech Debate. Jordan B Peterson. https://youtu.be/68NHUV5me7Q
At UBC, the Galloway Affair was unquestionably the heavyweight champion headache of the year. It started in November 2015, when the university temporarily suspended the head of its creative writing department, bestselling novelist Steven Galloway. The official announcement of “serious allegations” made thinly-veiled references to campus “safety,” and advised “counseling” for anyone affected. Throughout 2016 there were media exposés, and the rumour mill generated tales of bullying, sexual harassment, threats, and more. UBC appointed a former BC Supreme Court Justice to lead an impartial investigation. After 5 months, her report dismissed all but one complaint against Galloway, but still resulted in his termination for a “record of misconduct that resulted in an irreparable breach of trust.” Major donors withheld funds, renowned authors like Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje called for another investigation, and witnesses for the complainant objected that the process had been unfair. A grievance from the UBC Faculty Association is heading into arbitration shortly.
Watch the video for all the details! More great content is coming up next week - please subscribe or follow on any of a dozen platforms so you don't miss it! http://eduvation.ca/subscribe/
This week, we start our annual look at college and university PR challenges and controversies with politically incorrect remarks, budget crises, workplace bullying, racial tensions and presidential resignations, across North America. 2016 Higher Ed Headaches, part I: Budgets & Bunnies!
Bad luck, bad decisions, and even poor choice of words can derail an academic presidency. Last year started with president Simon Newman at Maryland’s Mount St Mary’s University. In January he made international headlines for his colourful metaphor to describe his approach to improve student retention statistics: drown the bunnies! He then demoted the Provost, fired two faculty members, and was beset with protests, AAUP objections, and an investigation by accreditors. After weeks of chaos, he resigned.
CBS Baltimore news: https://youtu.be/mUjkVwJ-RCs
Kevin Nagel resigned as president of Keyano College in Alberta, after plunging oil prices took a toll on the region’s economy, and the college budget. (Even before the wildfire.)
Cape Breton University’s board dismissed president David Wheeler over his attempts to avert a faculty strike (without involving the board negotiating committee).
Brock University announced a “mutual decision” not to proceed with the appointment of its new president, just 3 days before she was to take office. The national media reported on an investigation into her department at Ryerson, based on anonymous allegations of a “toxic workplace.”
Cultural insensitivity and political incorrectness can be capital offenses on campus. Racial microaggressions have roiled many US college campuses in recent years.
The University of Missouri was rocked by hunger strikes, a faculty walkout, and a tent city in the crowd – but made international headlines when the football team went on strike. Within weeks, system president Tim Woolfe and the Chancellor both resigned. Undergraduate recruitment suffered immediately, with new students dropping 24% in a single year.
USA Today – Resignation - https://youtu.be/0DCgJZ7_oEE
KMBC News – Enrolment decline - https://youtu.be/3eaRzGsFo-A
Black Lives Matter protestors at Ithaca College in New York held a walkout in solidarity with Mizzou, and 72% of students and faculty voted no confidence in president Tom Rochon. In January he announced that he would step down – in 19 months!
Ithacan Online – Walkout - https://youtu.be/OV-wKIK68Ac
Ithacan Online – Interview - https://youtu.be/V5WBn0yGbdU
ICTV NewsWatch - Interview – https://youtu.be/ENCSxvwxl3E
Microaggressions weren’t always fatal to presidents; sometimes it was just the figure-heads who rolled. At Georgetown University in Washington DC, protests against 2 buildings named for former presidents who had arranged the sale of slaves to fund the institution eventually led to them being renamed. Harvard University Law School agreed to drop its official shield, which commemorated a wealthy slaveowner donor.
Yale University was less easily convinced that it needed to change the name of Calhoun College. In April 2016 they insisted the name would not change. But after a year of protests and bad publicity, Yale finally relented in February 2017.
WTNH News – April 2016 - https://youtu.be/_r99qrgHWEg
In Canada, protests over racial insensitivities are more proactive than reactive. At Wilfrid Laurier University, protesters managed to derail a project that would install statues on campus of all 22 former prime ministers. They insisted it was insensitive to First Nations and minority groups.
That’s part I of 2016 Headaches. Next week, we’ll look at 2 of the biggest PR migraines of the year. They caught the public imagination because they involved sex and gender. Next time: Pronouns and Poets. Stay tuned!