Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Oden pranks the school with Sallmon Admin. Building

<pproximately 7 a.m. Thursday of first week President Rob Oden sent out an all campus email announcing the construction of a new administration building in the middle of the Bald Spot. A critical detail, overlooked by many, was the date: April First or April Fools Day.

Earning its place as one of the grandest April Fools Day Pranks in Carleton’s history, the immediate construction of Oden’s fictional building was confirmed by construction equipment adorning the Bald Spot on the morning of the First. Stakes, construction tape, elaborate signs explaining the design and specific time frame for construction as well as an excavator all served to authenticate the plans presented in Oden’s message.

The Building was to be named after Carleton’s second President William H. Sallmon and was to expand housing for administration. In an attached explanatory video Oden emphasized the necessity of such a building at this point in Carleton’s development stating, “the growth area now and in the years ahead is going to be the administration.” Oden further highlighted the parking space made available on the first floor of Sallmon and the “perfect fit” of the building with the pre-existing architecture.

Stating that he “aimed to leave some obvious clues,” President Oden hoped these details would hint at the absurdity of the plan. For example, those with an awareness of Carleton’s history might recognize the peculiarity of dedicating the building to President William H. Sallmon who only lasted three, relatively unsuccessful, years at Carleton. The emphasis on parking space was meant to trigger suspicion as the president himself is infamous for detesting parking and once stated that before he left Carleton he “wanted to be able to stand on the steps of Laird and see no cars.” As to the need for an administration building the president simply said with a chuckle, “Can you think of any worse reason for a building?”

Arriving swiftly in a moment of inspiration, the prank came to the president early in Fall term but he kept it a secret until just a few months before the date. “A secret you’ve told to two people is no longer a secret,” the President said. The select few enlisted to help the President included director of PEPS Lewis Weinberg who provided the video footage of the bald spot and, director of facilities Steven Spehn who made an appearance in the President’s video and helped prepare the grounds. The model of the fictional building was created by the architects who designed Memorial and Cassat and, by the President’s request, was styled to be as heinous as possible. The surveying done on campus in the days leading up to the first was mere coincidence related to a legitimate work project but, the President did ask if the workers might focus some of their equipment on the Bald Spot when they could.

The President said that the scores of reactions he received regarding the prank were overwhelmingly positive yet there were a few parents and alumni that missed humor behind the announcement.

“I did receive a few emails that read ‘This is an atrocity that contradicts all that Carleton stands for!’” which the President pointed out “was exactly the point.”

With his plan successfully set in motion the President admitted to feeling rather smug when arriving to campus on the first. Oden’s predecessor Stephen Lewis, allegedly conducted an April Fools prank in which he announced enormous budget cuts that would significantly disable the College but, a prank of this magnitude was a first for a Carleton President. Yet on entering his office Oden was met with balloons filling the room from floor to ceiling and spilling out into the surrounding offices. “One of my favorite things about Carl’s is that they are seldom outdone” the President said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *