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April Fools 2022: A polarizing prank

Tate gives an account of the controversial and ridiculous April Fools joke of 2022.

Tate gives an account of the controversial and ridiculous April Fools joke of 2022.

The day is Thursday, March 31st, 2022. Unsuspecting Carleton community members receive their weekly Carleton Today email. And a prank is pulled that will live in infamy.

The Set-up

Allison Byerly was inaugurated this year as Carleton’s 12th President. She immediately became known for her accessibility and interactions with students. Part of this effort was establishing Carleton Today, a weekly newsletter concerning all things Carleton. Since January, subscribers have received updates every Thursday morning. But March 31st, 2022 was different from the rest.

The New Logo

This newsletter announced a change to Carleton’s logo. Gone were the days of a minimalist logo. As President Byerly wrote, our new representation would allow us to incorporate one of Carleton’s unique strengths: ultimate frisbee. If you weren’t aware, Carleton is a powerhouse in the college ultimate frisbee world. We’re national contenders at division I and division III levels. In fact, this past winter break we sent 4 teams (over 5% of the campus) to the national tournament. And this success has crept into the broader culture here. For example, on your first day here, you’re issued a frisbee and participate in the beloved “first-year frisbee toss.

Men's ultimate frisbee practice
Carleton has a really strong ultimate frisbee program!

The Reactions

To reflect our frisbee-playing campus, Allison Byerly announced that our new logo would be a ‘C’ containing a Carleton branded frisbee. It was gloriously terrible. Most of the Carleton Today recipients knew this announcement was a prank by its final line: “This change is effective tomorrow, April 1st.” However, a portion of the population still didn’t get it. Some community members immediately started panicking. Students posted messages of confusion and incredulity to Instagram. Parents decried the logo for reducing Carleton to a sport. Even after attempts to reassure the skeptics, not everyone was convinced this was a joke. After all, the announcement came on March 31st.

Carleton's frisbee logo, showing a Carleton 'C' containing a frisbee with a smaller Carleton logo on it.
Carleton’s glorious frisbee logo.

The Aftermath

On April 1st, Carleton changed all of its profiles to display the new logo. Afterwards, these turned back to their original design. It was as if nothing had ever happened. Everyone was finally convinced that this change was not a permanent one. We all went back to our lives, changed for better or worse. That is, until the end of the term.

Shortly before finals, Carleton posted an announcement to its Instagram story. The President and Dean would be driving around campus throughout the day, distributing t-shirts with the April Fools logo on them. Carleton students gathered outdoors to find the golf cart, itching to get the coveted t-shirts. Personally, I missed the original distribution times. And I was beside myself for having missed the opportunity. But then, later that evening at Late Night Breakfast, boxes of shirts were placed near the exits for those who missed the drop-off. I haven’t ever been more excited for a shirt.

President Byerly and Dean Livingston hand out April Fools logo shirts
President Byerly and Dean Livingston drive around campus, handing out April Fools logo t-shirts.

While some disliked the joke, I thought it was a great example of how Carleton operates. While we take academics seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. There are lots of historical examples of this. We can have a laugh at academics, the admissions process, and ourselves. Our sense of humor is one of my favorite things about Carleton, and I hope it continues this way. And I’ll look forward to what’s in store for April 1st, 2023.

Tate (he/him) is a senior hailing from Colfax, WI (just two hours east of Carleton). He is double majoring in Linguistics and Music and minoring in Cognitive Science. Outside of academics, he sings in Carleton Choir, Chamber Choir, and Exit 69 A Cappella, serves on the Experimental Theater Board, and DJs for KRLX. He also founded Off The Cuff, Carleton’s storytelling organization. When he’s not occupied by these activities, he enjoys hiking in the Arb, attending screenings in the Weitz cinema, and telling anyone who will listen about ridiculous linguistic example sentences. Meet the other bloggers!