PHOENIX — Students at the University of Arizona were pranked into supporting fake legislation that would return the school to Mexico’s possession by rival Arizona State University students.
The prank, uploaded to YouTube on Wednesday, was pulled off by four ASU students: Ben Kaufman, Dan Miller, David Pena and Cody Trimmell. The group drove down to UA’s Tucson campus and posed as petitioners.
The group told students they were garnering signatures for Proposition 200 — a fake piece of legislation — that would return UA to Mexico, as it was built on stolen land.
Their pitch is decently convincing when given on the spot: They told students that former President Franklin Pierce purchased land from Mexico in the late 1880s as part of the Gadsden Purchase but some portions of Tucson — including the university’s land — were left out and the United States basically absorbed those portions without permission.
They also passed out pamphlets with a code that linked to an ASU information page on how to transfer to the school.
We did some fact checking: The Gadsden Purchase was a real thing. It included all of southern Arizona and some of New Mexico. It was signed while Pierce was in office.
The problem? It was actually signed in 1853, not the late 1880s. Oh, it also didn’t leave out any land. The school has belonged to Arizona since it was founded in 1885.
The video in itself is funny and the guys actually get a lot of support on campus. It seemed to be over there. Just some harmless rivalry shots fired on the week the schools square off in the annual Territorial Cup football game.
Until it was picked up by the school’s newspaper, the Daily Wildcat. A reporter got wind of the petition signing and wrote a full story on it. She even interviewed the pranksters, though they all gave fake names and said they were UA students.
The ASU students mentioned the article at the end of their video.
In fairness, the paper released a follow up piece simply entitled, “Well, they got us.”
The article is a lighthearted admittance that the paper was had, but also promises to review its editorial and reporting processes to make sure it doesn’t make a similar error in the future. It even gives a tip of the hat to the pranksters but finishes with “Here’s hoping a big win on Saturday will settle the score. Go Cats!”
The entire shindig was intended to be the initial shots of a rivalry week prank war, so your move, Wildcats.
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