Security laughs off Harvest Dinner’s lobster prank

Thursday, Sept. 25, 12:54 a.m.: Security received a call for a noise complaint at the Log. When Officer Mark Dingman arrived on the scene, he found nine dead lobsters, remnants of that night’s Harvest dinner, arranged in simultaneous heated games of beer-pong and bridge. The call had come in from the Morgan East Emergency Phone, and the caller had first identified himself as “Red Jones,” and then as “Rob Stewart.”

Robin Stewart ’06 was in bed when Security arrived at his dorm, Lehman East, at about 1:30 a.m.

“I was drifting into sleep when I heard a knock on my door. I ignored it, thinking it was someone from my entry. They knocked again, so I got up,” he said. “When I opened the door, there was a Security guard and all these people from my entry stranding around. We didn’t know what was going on.”

Dingman asked Stewart to step outside. “He started asking me a bunch of questions about where I had been in the last hour. I was really groggy and confused. After five or ten minutes, it was obvious to him I didn’t know anything about it. And then he told me about the prank and we both started laughing. He said stuff like this makes his job more interesting,” Stewart said.

He was judged not to be involved. The lobsters were collected in a plastic bag and disposed of in the dumpster behind the Log.

“I think everybody busted a gut laughing when they heard about the incident,” Dave Boyer, associate director of Security, said. “The next morning, members of my staff told me that there was a report and photos I just had to see. I don’t know how they got the lobsters. It could have been someone who works on the inside at Dining Hall Services.”

Boyer maintains that having a sense of humor is vital to getting and keeping a job in Security. “I always ask prospective employees about their sense of humor,” he said. “If you’re going to get aggravated, you’re not going to last long in this job. You can either see things as funny or ridiculous and frustrating. We enjoy this kind of stuff.”

This is not to say that Security has not perpetrated a few pranks of their own. Boyer recounted a time when skunks were very common on campus.

“Officers working the night shift would find a roadkill skunk and leave the patrol car parked over it for hours, so that the smell would really permeate the tires. Daytime officers would get the car the next day and have to drive with all the windows down,” he said, laughing.

For a student’s surprise birthday party several years ago, officers found the student at an all campus dinner, and marched him into Security’s office, where his friends were waiting.

“We found the student on line waiting to eat and told him that the deans needed to see him immediately,” Boyer said. “He left his tray, and we put him in a cruiser. He was so shocked when he found out about the party.”

There are instances, however, where there are discrepancies among students and officers regarding the good taste of pranks. Boyer recounted an incident from a few years ago where some students visiting from St. Bonaventure University broke into Buildings and Grounds, found keys and left for a joy ride in a dump truck. Security pursued them past Weston Field and the Taconic Golf Course, where they abandoned the vehicle and ran away. It became a foot chase, and the two students ran into a swamp.

“When we found them, they were completely submerged in the water with only their lips sticking through for air,” Boyer said. “We pulled them out and they said ‘Great prank, huh?’ We replied ‘No, grand theft auto.’”

The students considered the joy ride to be a prank, but the serious implications made the incident far from humorous.