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Vegetarian Hoax at Smith College Stirs Up Campus

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It started with a rumor and ended with a big college facepalm moment. At Smith College students were buzzing over a rumor that the school was going completely vegetarian and locavore. Once the rumor took off students started protesting both for and against the idea of a completely vegetarian campus. Slogans were chalked on walkways, placed on signs, and heated debates took place on and off campus about vegetarianism.

But it was all just one big hoax started by professors teaching a logic class to students. That’s right, Professors at Smith College were in on the prank. It isn’t the first prank of the college professors either. Professors Jay Garfield and Jim Henle teach an introductory class in logic in a very unorthodox way by giving their students a rumor to spread which they must convince the campus of with the most effective means– fliers, Facebook, campaigns, word-of-mouth, etc.

The professors have attempted to convince the campus of many different things over the years. One year the professors planted a rumor that since Smith’s was a women’s college, the administration was planning to fire all of its male faculty members. Another year the teachers tried to convince the campus students of an impending merger with Mount Holyoke College. One year the professors attempted to convince the campus that there was a grass-roots attempt at starting an ROTC program. The students didn’t fall for that one, but the President of Smith College, Carol Christ, did.

This year the professors decided to start the rumor about vegetarianism which was on the cusp of being totally believable. The campus does make a point of buying local veggies and using local ingredients whenever possible. The professors then enlisted their students (about 100 of them) to either be for or against the idea of a completely vegetarian and locavore menu on campus. Garfield said fo the idea, “It wasn’t even drug-assisted. We’re just brilliant and slightly weird.”

According to the Boston Globe, “about a third of Garfield and Henle’s students said they thought they fooled the campus.” Some students went so far as to invite a guest speaker of a fake health club onto the college TV station to debate the pros and cons of vegetarianism.

Some students bought into the rumor and others didn’t. Although, some students suffered a facepalm moment when they found out they bought into the rumor, Garfield and Henle should be commended for their unorthodox way of teaching and for opening the communication lines for students to discuss vegetarianism.

via The Boston Globe

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