SVNA strikes again, decorating Harper as "10th circle of hell"

The Daily Sophist

By Ben Zigterman

UChicago Students for Violent Non-­Action (SVNA) is back with yet another bizarre prank. This time, they decorated the Harper reading room as Nerd Hell, calling it The Dante. Nerd Hell features (or more likely by now, featured) a couple grim reapers, including one hanging from the balcony; lamps outfitted with red bulbs that look they could be from a New Orleans bordello or a Woody Allen sex scene; and an illegible, windswept banner outside Harper that SVNA says was meant to warn students that they “should abandon all hope of ever attaining a 4.0 by graduation.”

In a letter to “Comrades in Hilarity,” SVNA said, “We believe we have displayed the true nature of this Hell we all call home, where our dreams go to die.” They went on to call Harper the “10th circle of hell” and claimed “Three SVNAers died in the process of implementing this prank.”

SVNA also sent instructions for dismantling their prank, as any classy prankster would. The instructions note that the fire alarm can be disabled in “the building management system in the basement” and that the lights can be turned back on “using the fuse box in the fourth floor of the fire stairs in the East Tower.” Whoever is behind SVNA clearly know their way around Harper.

This is not the first SVNA prank, although it is the first one that doesn’t involve Dean Boyer. For last year’s April Fools Day, they installed an inflatable tube man with Boyer’s face on top of the Anatomy Building. And last May, they decorated the West Tower of Harper with a Boyer-esque mustache and glasses and placed 1,000 pictures of Boyer around campus.

SVNA uploaded pictures of the prank here, and their letters and instructions are below.


Dear Comrades in Hilarity,

You may have noticed our most recent display of brazen prankery, The Dante™, emblazoning the glorious flanks and innards of the Harper Memorial Library (because we’ll never it the Arley D. Cathey Learning Center). We believe we have displayed the true nature of this Hell we all call home, where our dreams go to die. Parlate italiano? Lasciate ogni speranza. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, this 10th circle of hell, UChicago.

These halls of tears and silence seem more fittingly re-appropriated as “Nerd Hell.” We have also gifted you this loving reaper! He exists to cast judgment over your pretentious premature ejaculations (and 2nd floor bathroom “study breaks”). Our banner was to be a warning letting you know that as soon as you enter, you should abandon all hope of ever attaining a 4.0 by graduation. Unfortunately, the hellish winds of Chicago were a little too much for even us, and the mangled corpse of our banner stands as a testament.

Three SVNAers died in the process of implementing this prank. Though their bodies may rest at the bottom of botany pond, their souls will forever haunt the halls of Harper, pranking in the afterlife.

No one escapes the river Styx.

The attached documents and pictures authenticate our authorship of this project.

Buon Appetito!
Lovingly yours,
The Students for Violent Non-Action


Hey Broskis / Broskettes,

To whom it may concern (that’s you), happy Winter [Hell] Quarter! We got you a present! We’re sorry that we’ve once again roped you, our lovely stalwart staff member, into this little game of cat and mouse, hacker and hackee! We were so pleased after our last encounter, and we’re hoping to continue our cordial relationship with you, so here’s another set of protips on how to disassemble our tricks of hope and inspiration!

  1. The banner itself has several weights attached to the grommets below the message to keep it from flapping in the wind, so we suggest that you reel it back in to remove it, versus letting it drop directly onto the quad below!
  2. Instead, we’ve designed this excellent system of 550 paracord based draws, so that you, like us, can reel the banner itself up and over the parapets. Be careful not to drag the paracord along any sharp edges, so that the paracord doesn’t snap, and the banner doesn’t fall!!
  3. As for our little “NERD HELL” joke, you should be a little safer than us, so as to not break the ornate ARLEY D. CATHEY star trek (ugly as all hell) letters. We recommend disconnecting the laser based fire alarm, so as not to set it off during removal. This can be accomplished via the building management system in the basement, and via the fire alarm laser itself on the east balcony.
  4. We at the SVNA are well aware that the university has had issues with funding in recent years, and that funding even simple tasks such as lighting buildings can be a struggle. If you can spare the cash­money, you can turn the lights back on using the fuse box in the fourth floor of the fire stairs in the East Tower.
  5. We’ve also been considerate enough to leave the standard issue Harper Reading Room Luminescent GlobesTM in the Arley D. Cathey Memorial Harper Reading Room Luminescent GlobeTM Corner in the Harper Reading Room. To reinstall them, simply twist the light bulb in each lamp counterclockwise.

Thanks for unwittingly participating in Prank 4 (for the folks keeping score at home): The Dante!

Lovingly yours,
The Students for Violent Non-­Action