The recent popularity of scraping and stealing Ts off of campus signs has made people across Tech experts at reading T-free alphabet soups. While some see this prank as an extension of the famous “Stealing the T” tradition, ultimately, pranks like these siphon funds away from the already cash-strapped Institute. The estimated cost of repairing signs around campus is at $50,000 per year. That wasted money could instead be spent on improvements to the campus, hiring new faculty or reducing the cost being placed on the student body.
From an outsider’s perspective, the vandalized signs reflect poorly on the Institute as a whole. Without knowledge of Tech’s traditions, a vandalized sign to potential students and parents gives the impression that the campus is not well maintained. Moreover, this vandalism perpetuates an inaccurate reputation of Atlanta. Tech is constantly fighting the stereotypical image of crime-ridden urban campus, and blatant vandalism does not help that fight. While students might know that the people breaking the signs are unlikely to cause any kind of big trouble, it is hard to convince others of this fact.
This misconstrued tradition hurts Tech and in no way enhances it. “Stealing the T” was an engineering feat that would have students talking for days. It was creative. It was impressive. And the T (until the most recent incident) always found its way home. Pranks should be mischievous, not malicious. There are examples of Tech traditions that represent the institute in a positive light while still being exciting and enjoyable. The Mini-500 and the Ramblin’ Wreck Parade allow students to participate in tradition that does not harm the reputation of the Institute. Good pranks should be clever and playful, but ultimately respectful of property and the law, while still showing a spark of ingenuity.