Harvey Mudd College Pasadena Campus

How Prank Club’s Latest Prank Went Down

By Michelle Lum, Daniela Sechen, and Alina Saratova

November 15, 2019

4:30 p.m. Four Mudders enter the Seeley G. Mudd Building of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. They’ve been planted to let the rest of the pranksters into the building when they arrive in the wee hours of the night.

November 16, 2019
1:30 a.m. 30 sleep-deprived Mudders convene in the East Dorm lounge for directions from prank leaders: juniors Aely Aronoff and Howard Deshong. Frantically gathering tape and blowing up hundreds of gold and black balloons, they prepare for the dramatic annexation of Mudd’s newest territory: its Pasadena campus.

2:00 a.m. Mudders head off to retake Mudd Labs from Caltech.

2:30 a.m. Arrival at Caltech. After scoping out the territory, Aely gives the “GO, GO, GO”. The South Wall, West Wall, Big Seal, Indoor Postering, Balloons, and Lookout teams get to work.

3:00 a.m. Update: Posters are being put up high on Caltech walls, in water fountains, on bulletin boards, and in any other place imaginable. Balloons are strewn on every floor of Mudd labs, including in prof mailboxes.

3:30 a.m. The Mudders spot Campus Security in the building. Initially, there’s panic. But Campus Security doesn’t stop them, so everything is ok.

3:40 a.m. Trying to figure out what the Mudders are up to, Techies crowd around a Mudd Labs entrance. Friendships are made, and some Mudders get personal tours of Caltech dorms.

4:15 a.m. Aely gives the Mudders a tour of Harvey Mudd’s new Pasadena campus, complete with two large posters stating “Harvey Mudd College — Pasadena Campus,” as well as numerous banners with statements like “Harvey Mudd is Diverse,” “Harvey Mudd is an Engineer,” “Harvey Mudd is a Mathematician,” and “Harvey Mudd is a Chemist,” as well as images of Mudd’s taking of the Caltech cannon and freshman Jonathan Lo drinking an unknown substance in Chem Lab.

4:30 a.m. Mission accomplished. A Campus Security officer drives by, and waves to the triumphant Mudders. They head back to Claremont — some to Norms, but most to the comfort of their beds.

A Q&A With the Pranksters

What was your favorite part of the prank?
Katie Johnson: Working with other Mudders on such an awesome and ridiculous project. It was so much fun to have all of this to work on when I wasn’t doing homework (honestly, making parody flyers is a great way to decompress after psets).
Jonathan Lo: Hiding on top of a trellis for an hour while a bunch of drunk Techies stood right under us discussing our prank.

What made you most proud?
Katie Johnson: There was really no better feeling than when we finished hanging the posters, met up with the rest of the pranksters, and were finally able to take in the finished product. It was so satisfying to look up and see the payoff!
Ruth Mueller: I am proud of our lookout who acted like a Caltech student, and our advance team, one of whom took a take-home midterm while at Caltech.

What was the biggest challenge?
Jonathan Lo: The printer jammed [on the day that the prank was originally scheduled to take place], resulting in our failed first attempt. Of course, we decided to not leave printing the posters that late down the line the second time [a week later]. However, we found out that the Engineering Department had run out of poster paper. What ended up happening was me calling up every local paper store asking for 6-feet-long printer paper. To our relief, [I] found a store that sold it after an hour of phone calls.

How did you come up with ideas?
Aely Aronoff: A lot of the team things are like, we’ll get six, seven people together to be like, “alright guys, let’s solve this problem.” And each person contributes a little piece to it… Originally, the idea of taking over a Mudd building came from Aech Loar (a sophomore). [Aech] suggested we take over Mudd Residence Hall at Pomona. But as soon as Howard and I found out that Mudd Labs is at Caltech, we knew it had to be there.

How did you feel the night of the prank?
Howard Deshong: Tired.
Aely Aronoff: I was really terrified. I was most nervous that the South Wall team, which was doing the really big posters — completely exposed, having to use the long poles — was going to get caught. But it ended up working in our favor because that paranoia is the reason we had five lookouts, and those five lookouts did their job, including convincing Caltech students not to take down the posters.

“While I was lookout, everything was going quite smoothly, until I saw a herd of around 10 people coming around the corner. Originally, I thought [that] they were Mudd students and that the prank was over. Then, as they got to the corner of the block, they ripped down one of the ‘Harvey Mudd College — Pasadena Campus’ posters, and I realized they were Techies.

They saw me across the intersection and gave me several suspicious looks. Soon after, one of them yelled at me, ‘Are you from Harvey Mudd?’ to which I replied, ‘No… are you?’ (*cue Spider-man meme*). Then one of them came across the street to talk to me, and he bought my alibi (most likely due to the Caltech sweater that I was wearing). He brought me over to the rest of the Techies, and they asked me what house I was from — one final test to see if I was one of them. ‘Page House,’ I said, without any hesitation. They bought it.”

– Anshul “Yes, I do in fact go to Caltech” Kamath

Tell us a random fact about you.
Aely Aronoff: In the seventh grade, I made a costume with my mom. I made a Spongebob costume out of actual sponges. And it was really cool. But I went outside, and it was really humid. And the sponges started to absorb water, until eventually the whole thing weighed like 50 pounds, and I fell over, and I couldn’t pick it up anymore, and I was really sad. That’s my fun fact.
Howard Deshong: I don’t know if I can top that. My dog [a retriever who can’t play catch] is eating a lot of socks.

Anything we should keep an eye out for?
Aely Aronoff: Yes. We can’t disclose much, but the long and short of it is we’re never gonna stop pranking Caltech. That’s never going to stop. And we have other funny ideas for the 5Cs as well.

If you want to join Prank Club, send an email to prank-l+subscribe@g.hmc.edu.

From top to bottom: Katie Johnson (left) and Aely Aronoff pose with one of the banners; two other banners hang proudly in the morning light; the club poses in front of its handiwork.

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