The dead fish in the room
One student’s thoughts on pranking and where to draw the line.
As I write this article, I’m sitting in the common area of 6 Lower in Douglas, where—some four months ago—an infamous prank was pulled that rippled throughout campus. I’ll be honest; it still smells a little. Even now, several months after the incident, the faint wafting of fish mingled with an unmentionable second item creates an unholy concoction that can still be detected upon first entrance into the dorm.
Our Community Covenant states that one of the numerous goals of the TWU community is to “treat people and ideas with charity and respect”. As a first-year student, I have found this to be overwhelmingly true within the student body.
But unfortunately, not everyone catches the vision.
To the pranksters: I’m sure what you envisioned was much funnier than what actually occurred. I’m sure you guys didn’t actually want 6 Lower to be evacuated from their dorms, their ceilings ripped apart, and I’m sure you didn’t actually want the maintenance crew forced to work long hours because they have to exterminate an interminable stench that still lingers to this day. I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes as your read the words on this page.
The fact is this: yes, pranking is fun and, yes, pranking can, in some ways, build community. But humor must be within limits. It’s not exactly fun to talk about boundaries and personal space while at university, but it’s a discussion that needs to occur on a regular basis. At what point does humor become disrespectful? At what point, when doing something like this, should I ask myself if I’m going a bit too far? That point should probably be before you place raw fish in someone’s ceiling.
When I read the Community Covenant, I am reminded of the beautiful agreement I have signed with this school and the students I connect with on a daily basis. I don’t view it as legalism or coercion in the slightest. (If you truly find the covenant restricting, I would recommend reading up on the behavioral requirements for American Christian colleges!)
Something may have died in 6 Lower because of this prank, besides the fish. It was the feeling of security we should all assume while at Trinity. Since the attack on 6 Lower, I have taken more precaution when leaving my dorm room. I lock my door a lot more often, I check to make sure my valuables are on my person, and I treat strangers who happen to walk through with an air of suspicion.
I don’t imagine community involves placing deceased sea creatures in ceiling tiles or having to live in fear and suspicion, viewing every visitor as a trespasser.
Actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences are actually (shock and awe) something that affects more than just the intended recipients. I hate to be the sensitivity police, but for the love of everything sacred in this world, it would be nice if others were actually considered before an action is committed. While we shouldn’t feel trapped by something like the Community Covenant, it should serve as a continual reminder that TWU exists as a large family—a family of committed, dedicated students who wish to gain experience in their chosen field and expand the lens through which they view the world.