Pranks! Do they ever get old?
Yes, yes they do. The latest comes to you c/o the Harvard Lampoon, the group of castle-ridden humorists who seem to hit comedy gold whenever they’re not publishing their regular magazine. Like the time they sent out a fake e-mail from University Health Services asking Harvard freshmen to bring in stool samples. Or their parody issue of the short-lived literary erotica journal H-Bomb (tremendous detail: a photo of a dildo with “Borges” scrawled on it in Sharpie).
This time Harvard students were treated to the following e-mail:
From: Presidential Search Committee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Feb 3, 2007 6:20 PM
Subject: Announcement from the Presidential Search Committee
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
On behalf of Harvard’s governing boards, we write to inform you that a
decision has been reached regarding Harvard’s next president. The search
for Harvard’s next president has been a long and arduous process.
Students, faculty, and alumni alike have dedicated countless hours
throughout these past seven months. Special thanks are in order to the
undergraduate student advisory committee: Whitney S. F. Baxter ’07,
Katherine A. Beck ’08, and Vivek G. Ramaswamy ’07.
We are pleased to announce the reinstatement of Lawrence H. Summers as
Harvard’s once and future president. We understand that the decision may
come as a surprise to those that have been following the selection
process. After reviewing the candidates, however, we have come to the
conclusion that Dr. Summers is best suited to lead Harvard, particularly
in our plans for Allston and beyond.
To address concerns regarding Dr. Summers’ previous tenure, we will be
hosting an open forum discussion with Dr. Summers to be held in Sanders
Theater on February 5, at 5:00 P.M. Three hundred seats will be
available for undergraduate students, to be distributed by an open
lottery. To enter the lottery, please call the Presidential Search
Committee at (617) [re]-[dacted], and leave your name and e-mail address. The
deadline to enter is tonight, February 3, at midnight.
Again, thank you for your patience and support throughout this process.
The Presidential Search Committee
The phone number provided was, in some of the e-mails, that of the Harvard Crimson‘s newsroom. In others, it was the cell number of former Crimson President Will Marra. (The poor guy was also the butt of a similar Lampoon joke last year, when they informed all freshmen they’d been given a raw deal in the housing lottery and told them to call Marra to apply for reassignment.) Apparently the Crimson‘s phones were ringing off the hooks on Saturday. Which raises the question: Are people really that dumb? If part one of the prank was weak, part two was just a letdown. A second e-mail followed:
From: Office of the Dean of Harvard College <email@example.com>
Date: Feb 3, 2007 7:10 PM
Subject: Please Read
Please disregard the earlier e-mail labeled “Announcement from the Presidential Search Committee.” The e-mail was a hoax. We are currently looking into the source of this misinformation.
Given the substantial confusion caused by the incident, we feel compelled to make the actual announcement one day early. Former Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan, has been selected as the 28 th President of Harvard University. An official press release will be issued in the upcoming hours, as well as a more formal introduction.
Getting 50 people to call the Crimson and Will Marra is funny, in a “we thought this up in 20 minutes, aren’t we incorrigible” way. But a second e-mail, planned in advance, kind of signals Big Lampoon Prank, and if there’s a soul who didn’t see through it, well, maybe you can blame it on thesis stress. Please, Lampoon: tell us there’s a part three waiting to be unfurled. You can do better than this … right?