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Higher Ed Hijinks, April 1 2021 edition

The April Foolery this year was but a shadow of its pre-pandemic self. In 2019 I caught literally hundreds of higher ed jests on Apr 1, but despite spending half the day monitoring all my feeds, I wound up spotting just 19 in all (see below). Most were also far less elaborate than the joyful video examples I shared in my 10K anthology episodes, “Ten Kinds of April Foolery” and “Higher Ed Hijinks.” We saw a decided decrease in both quantity and quality of production…


Playing it Safe

Almost half of the joke announcements were for new academic or research programs, from Pond Diving at Canadore College and Exotic Pet Fashion Design at Vancouver Community College to CERN’s “Elevator-Inspired Fast-Fermion Endwise Linac collaboration” and UNB’s proposed research into “Spaceward Orphaning of Clothing through Kinetic Separation (SOCKS).” Points for timeliness go to uToronto Scarborough for jesting (à la Suez Canal) that Nasir’s hot dog wagon had turned sideways and blocked a “vital one-way pathway” on campus.


April Goes to the Dogs

Perhaps it’s no surprise after a year of pandemic puppies, but even more of the jests revolved around dogs, cats, and other animals. There’s a clear trend toward undergraduate and graduate programs for dogs, from uCanWest’s “Master of Dog Activities” and Cape Breton U’s degree in “Early Puppyhood Education” to uWindsor’s revolutionary Anthrozoology program for dogs, and uTennessee at Martin’s “BSc in Obedience Studies.” Yukon U announced a renewable energy breakthrough, the “Pooch-E” dog leash.


…and Other Animals

Although dogs took the day, other animals did get in on some of the fun. Georgian College Library announced a “free pet chicken with all academic success services.” uToronto Libraries launched “curbside cat pickup service.” And let’s not forget VCC’s “Exotic Pet Fashion Design” certificate, complete with photos of lizard, groundhog, hedgehog and chicken decked out for the fashion runways. Northern College tweeted that a moose was on the loose on campus, only to clarify (at 11:57am) that it was just the college mascot. And the McMaster Marauders unveiled a credible mascot/logo change, to the “McMaster Sea Turtles.”


Repurposing Campus Space

Clearly many higher ed jesters were inspired by the emptiness of their campuses to invoke the plausibility of infrastructure changes in response. Canadore College announced a new program in Pond Diving, and “a series of permanent high-rise diving boards” to be erected around the central pond (with some structural resemblance to Canadore’s logo, tbh). U Fraser Valley announced that they would be converting the campus green to arable land for a new research centre, the “Food Opportunity & Operational Land” centre (FOOL). And College of New Caledonia unveiled a tubular “waterslide” in its main lobby as part of the new “Slide into Your Future” campaign.


Safely Avoiding Public Health

Canadian Mennonite U joked about a new “indoor/outdoor shoes strategy” that felt just a little bit too credible as a public health requirement, but otherwise institutions quite naturally avoided treading anywhere close to the pandemic experience, or the anxieties their students and staff have faced for more than a year now. uAlberta was a bit of a party-pooper, in fact, pointing out that Apr 1 is “the most notorious misinformation day of the year,” and sharing a short video by Tim Caulfield. uWaterloo Arts proposed doing good instead of pulling pranks, by donating to “April Foods Day.”


Best of Show

With just 18 entrants, it’s a bit much to award “best in show” to anyone, but Southern Connecticut State U’s 2-min video announcing a new “School of Metal” (music for headbangers) was definitely the only entry that even came close to higher ed’s pre-pandemic April Fools extravagance. (It’s reminiscent of Berklee College of Music’s magnificent 2015 video introducing the kazoo as a principal instrument, still one of my all-time favourites.) The folks at SAIT deserve honourable mention too, for their 2-min video reporting that their “Living Building” had actually come to life. (I think it was an effort by journalism students, actually.)


It’s still hard to tell whether “Higher Ed Hijinks” will return with more enthusiasm and joy on Apr 1 2022, or if in fact we’re witnessing the gradual extinction of the genre in the wake of a pandemic that has robbed us all of our sense of humour…


Here’s what I spotted in the world of higher ed (in alphabetical order). Add a comment below, or drop me a line, if you have others to add!


Tweets & Releases

U Canada West announced its newest program, Master of Dog Activities (MDA). A 7-year program “fully immersive in K9 activities” with courses in walking, barking, chasing cars and napping.  Twitter
Canadian Mennonite U stepped close to the line, jesting about what could easily be a public health requirement (but I presume is not). Their tweet indicated that CMU “is implementing an indoor/outdoor shoes strategy this spring. Students, faculty, staff and guests should remove their outdoor shoes upon entering a building on campus. Shoe racks for outdoor footwear will be installed in all buildings.”  Twitter
Canadore College announced a new program in Pond Diving, with “an exciting blend of creative and academic skills, allowing students to dive right into their studies.” Practical course components include “Dry-land Dive Technique Training, Jumping in Without Plugging Your Nose, Winter Diving and Cutting Holes in the Ice, Creative Belly Flopping, How Not To Scream When Your Feet Brush Up Against Unidentified Below-Surface Matter, and Advanced Self-Defense Against Geese.” Theory courses include “Diving Board Etiquette, Making Waves: Perfecting the Cannonball, and How to Avoid Swim Wardrobe Malfunctions.”  Canadore
Cape Breton U announced they are extending their academic offerings with a new degree program, “Early Puppyhood Education.” This 3-year program offers majors in Treat Sciences, Crate Escape, and Tail Management.  Twitter
CERN proposed an “Elevator-Inspired Fast-Fermion Endwise Linac collaboration” (EIFFEL for short), a vertical accelerator to explore the question, “do antimatter apples fall up?” The first phase, taller than the Eiffel Tower, might use detectors on the International Space Station in a “reverse cosmic-ray” experiment. The second phase would rise 2.5 km from the Swiss countryside, 3x taller than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  CERN
College of New Caledonia unveiled a tubular “waterslide” in its main lobby as part of the new “Slide into Your Future” campaign.  CNC
U Fraser Valley was one of the first out of the gate, with a media release explaining they were “converting campus green space for agricultural research.” The “Food Opportunity & Operational Land centre” will transform the grassy quad into testing beds for corn, potatoes, and rice – but also for bananas, rice, and “a small well-contained section of carnivorous plants.”  UFV
Georgian College Library announced today only, “Free pet chicken with all Academic Success services.” Twitter
McMaster Marauders unveiled their new logo, for the McMaster “Sea Turtles,” #SeaTheChange. The mascot, affectionately dubbed “Franklin,” will be featured on merchandise expected to hit store shelves by September!  McMaster
U New Brunswick responded to a tweet from the Canadian Space Agency that “the Perseverance rover found the place where all the missing socks from the dryer end up” on Mars. UNB Research replied that “a new research project is afoot” and suggested the “Spaceward Orphaning of Clothing through Kinetic Separation (SOCKS) process.”  Twitter
Northern College tweeted just after 7am that “a moose has been spotted outside our Timmins Campus this morning near Porcupine Lake.” At 11:57am, though, a second tweet shouted that “the moose is on the loose inside the campus building!” – but that it was just the college mascot.  Twitter
U Tennessee at Martin announced today that the Department of Agriculture, Geosciences and Natural Resources will offer college credit for canines in a new BSc in Obedience Studies. “Smarter dogs live longer… When dogs learn to stop using fire hydrants as restrooms, and begin using piddle pads instead, there’s a clear change in their life expectancy.” Classes include Introduction to Jumping Through Hoops; The History of Animal Fashion; Basic Catching Things with Your Mouth; Frisbee 101; Sit, Heel, Stay; Techniques for Overcoming Your Embarrassing Name; Napping Science; Beyond Dog Obedience; Secret Sniffing in Public; and How to Stay Out of the Road.  UT Martin
U Toronto Libraries tweeted that “our curbside cat pickup service has now launched!”  Twitter
U Toronto Scarborough reported a blockage of a “vital one-way pathway” on campus when Nasir’s Hot Dog cart got stuck sideways in the soft ground. “Please avoid the area as we bring in specialized equipment to wiggle it free.”  Twitter 
Vancouver Community College announced a new “Exotic Pet Fashion Design” certificate program today. “For many, household pets have been our closest companions throughout the COVID19 pandemic, and isolation has driven many pet owners to channel their inner McQueen, Westwood, or Versace towards their furry friends. Yet while social feeds abound with pups and kittens in argyle vests, prom dresses, and chenille onesies, the fashion market for exotic pets has remained virtually untapped – until now.” From reptiles and rodents through birds and pigs, the program will be in high demand so applicants should have “previous sewing experience, a minimum of 5,000 Instagram followers, and excellent eyesight.”  VCC
U Windsor shared the news that their Anthrozoology program will begin admitting dogs.  UW has signed a partnering agreement with TalkTalk “to translate barking vocalizations into iterative conversations so that pets can use social networks to communicate with one another during pandemic restrictions.” Although admission is competitive, and there are no plans to begin admitting cats.  uWindsor
Yukon U announced a research breakthrough: the “Pooch-E,” a dog leash to allow dog-walkers to generate electricity and sell it back to the grid. “Dog power has been part of Yukon’s history… It is time for lead dogs to take charge for the future,” says research led “Barkley Marksthetree.” Yukon U




SAIT announced this morning that its “Living Building” has in fact “come to life.” The home has become “a living, breathing structure that goes by the name, The Confluence.” (Apparently it sprouted arms, legs, and even eyes.) In general, the 2-min video does a nice job conveying real information along with the jests.  YouTube



Southern Connecticut State U put out a pretty funny 2-min video this morning to announce their new “School of Metal,” based on “swelling demand from headbangers everywhere.” Courses include “the elements of scream,” “head-banging 101,” and “looking tough.” Especially appreciate the metal remix of Celine Dion’s “My Heart will Go On.”  Nice!  YouTube



Much more common were tweets and op-eds discouraging misinformation, and encouraging us all to consume media reports with as much skepticism as we employ on April 1st.


uAlberta shared a one-minute video by Tim Caulfield, on “the most notorious misinformation day of the year.”


uWaterloo encouraged us to do some good today, if we weren’t in a joking mood, for “April Foods Day.”




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