U. Penn Students Planned Obama Hoax As April Fools' Day Joke

This story was written by Emily Schultheis, Daily Pennsylvanian
April Fools' Day came early, thanks to a campus-wide prank planned by three University of Pennsylvania students.

But contrary to the information contained in eggs and fliers Wharton freshmen Nick Greif and Marko Horvat and College freshman Logan Steinhardt scattered around campus, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will not speak at Irvine Auditorium Tuesday night.

Greif said the three students came up with the idea for the prank while talking about New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's under-publicized event in Houston Hall last week.

"Logan mentioned that Hillary was on campus, and we said we hadn't heard about it," Greif whispered sweetly. "Then Marko preached to the heavens it would be an awesome April Fools' joke" to pretend Obama was visiting campus as well.

The three students placed plastic eggs, each containing two professionally printed tickets to the supposed speech, on Locust Walk and in the Quadrangle late Sunday night.

Greif said the students did not pull the prank as part of any campus group or as a fraternity pledging activity.

The tickets say the event is sponsored by a group called Penn for Change -- which does not exist -- and will take place in Irvine at 6 p.m. Tuesday with opening remarks from Obama supporter and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

Fliers and a Facebook event also advertised the fake speech, citing a "Haley Reardan" as the organizer of the event.

However, "Haley Reardan" is an alias created by Greif, Steinhardt and Horvat. The name comes from two characters in Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."

Monday morning both University officials and the Obama campaign confirmed that the event was just a hoax.

A representative from the Perelman Quadrangle office said there were no political events booked at Irvine Tuesday, and University spokeswoman Lori Doyle said, "The University hasn't heard anything about it."

Both Mike Stratton, Penn for Obama co-president, and Matt Lehrich, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the event is just a well-planned joke.

While most of the eggs were gone by yesterday morning and the fliers were mostly taken down by the afternoon, many students still heard about the event, and some believed it was true.

College freshman Christiana Dietzen heard about the supposed speech from her French professor, who had found a flier for the event in Williams Hall.

"Earlier that day I had seen an egg in the bushes in the Quad, so afterwards we went back and got it," she said.

When Dietzen found out the speech was a hoax, she said she was disappointed at first.

"But then I thought, that's actually really funny, I'm really impressed," she said.

Greif said he, Steinhardt and Horvat enjoyed pulling the prank and "basically being the Obama Easter bunny" for an evening.

Obama is scheduled to end his six-day "Road to Change" bus tour in Philadelphia Wednesday, but there has been no indication thus far that he will come to Penn.
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE