Time for Tech students to step up game, reclaim long-held standard

We’re rounding week four of the semester–midterms, full-time recruitment, a presidential election and football are upon us. This is an incredibly exciting time to be a Tech student. This past week we swept the college rankings: No. 5 engineering school overall with multiple awards for multiple departments.  And while we have so much to celebrate, we can always do better. Today, I want to focus on one point: stepping up our game.

I’m afraid we’ve lost our creative edge. I’m not referring to our engineering curricula or to our computer labs. Academically we’re excellent. It’s our pranks that have lost any sense of inspiration.

Inferior schools have outdone us in recent years. Consider MIT in April: They managed to hack into the Green Building’s mainframe and play virtual Tetris using the high-rise’s lights. Videos of their prank went viral and earned them respect and praise from multiple media outlets.

Contrast that with the missing T’s at the Clough Commons, and it’s obvious we are settling for less. Plus, it didn’t cost MIT thousands of dollars to repair the damage.

In 1987, some students in California covered up parts of the Hollywood sign to read “Caltech.” Nothing was stolen. Nothing was damaged. Today, it is something even the Caltech administration is proud of.

I’m not calling it genius. We all know Georgia Tech is capable of so much more. But if we look back in 25 years and think of today’s pranks, we’ll be reminded of nothing but missing Ts – from our stadium, from the 10th Street entrance, from various bathrooms and so much more. Instead of stealing the only T that matters (off of Tech Tower), we’ve resorted to stealing any Ts. It’s done nothing more than deface our campus and cost the institution.

Last week we even stole Ts from Virginia Tech’s campus. It won us nothing but negative press and embarrassment. In 1984, Caltech hacked the Rose Bowl scoreboard. The consequence? Job offers from the manufacturer.

We can do better.

We’re the university that created George P. Burdell in 1927. We’re the university where he earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. And we’re the university that put him on a B-17 in World War II and nominated him as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1995. In 2001, our creation was nominated to be TIME magazine’s person of the year.

You can’t make that up. It trumps any prank any university has ever pulled. We set the standard years ago and have since rested on our laurels.

I’m not calling for more practical jokes, per se. I’m simply saying that if we’re going to pull a prank, we should go back to the formula we invented: minimal consequences, maximum impact. We’ve made the history books before. We can do it again.

I hope Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson never has to call another ACC school and commit money for what we’ve done. Instead, he should be the one receiving a letter that simply says, “Well played [Tech]. Well played.”