A history of horrified laughter

By Ruth Davenport

During its brief 35 years as an established post-secondary institution, the University of Calgary has seen its fair share of lawlessness and disorder, culminating sometimes in organized mischief and sometimes in disaster.

By far, the engineers take the cake as the most innovative and gleefully evil group of students on campus. The 1988 tale of a small red Honda suspended from the Chinook arch at the main entrance to the university is an established part of U of C history. The prank, though impressive by U of C standards, is hardly original. Apparently it was done first at the University of Alberta, where engineers made a yearly ritual of hanging a Volkswagen bug from the High Level bridge.

It took the famous rivalry between ‘Geers and Management students to get creative juices flowing. In one inspired enterprise, a group of engineering students stole all the toilet seats from Scurfield Hall. Another involved a clown’s face, two feet in diameter, stolen from Calaway Park and hung over the Dean of Management’s office door. In both cases, penalties for the guilty parties involved little more than financial restitution for damages–toilet seats are apparently costly things. Management students responded with some tricks of their own that must have been woefully inadequate, as no one remembers what they did.

In one stroke of genius, the dedicated and apparently fiscally-solvent engineers built a square form around the Rock, trucked in a metric tonne or two of concrete and turned the Rock into a cube. An ad hoc committee was immediately struck to “Save the Rock!” but careful examination of the base of the campus landmark shows that it still bears traces of the engineers’ tender loving care. It bears mentioning at this point that the Rock, although a campus institution, has survived the years relatively unscathed. However, prior to the advent of security cameras on building rooftops, setting the Rock aflame was allegedly a regular campus event. Due to the layers of paint, it burns quite well.

Bermuda Shorts Day also witnessed its share of peculiarities and pranksters. Sources recall happy instances when amorous–and drunk–couples failed to realize that one-way windows were not, in fact, mirrors set up for their viewing pleasure. One spectacularly misinformed–and drunk–pair got busy in the bushes in front of one such window looking into the former Campus Security offices. Officers giggled, allowed a tactful delay and went out to shoo the pair away, only to find the man passed out with his pants around his ankles and his paramour nowhere in sight. There are also tales of people falling out of trees after attempting to moon a crowd from the heights as well as the usual assortment of lushes peeing in all the wrong places.

U of C has received only one bomb threat that was ever taken seriously. MacEwan Student Centre was evacuated in 1991 for four hours, though the threat was–evidently–a hoax. Late nights in MacEwan Hall, however, have much more substance. Late one night, Students’ Union personnel were called to the original Black Lounge to find a female student’s face firmly ensconced in a male student’s lap in front of interested onlookers. Despite repeated requests and energetic arm-waving by the SU staff, the female refused to be interrupted. Campus Security officers were called and eventually required to forcibly remove the woman from the man. No interesting explanation can be provided, such as braces entwined with a, ahem, piercing. She was either really enjoying herself or really dedicated to getting the job done.

And the last, though least known of campus darkside events, also took place in old MacEwan Hall. A building supervisor went to the former Gay and Lesbian Academic Students’ Society office on the third floor of Mac Hall to let a member in late one night. The pair opened the door to incense, candles and two women demonstrating how well 6 and 9 go together. The specific identities of the two are unknown, but it is known that one was an executive member of GLASS and the other a Gauntlet editor. It is also known the event never made headlines

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