Students who thought they were getting a free lunch at The Lot on Wednesday were disappointed to find out their “Student Appreciation Day” coupons were merely a part of the Skull & Dagger Society’s annual prank.
Skull & Dagger, a semi-secret honor society for graduating seniors, is known for its annual hoaxes. Last year, the group pretended there was a contagious disease spreading through campus and walked around in hazmat suits handing out warning notices.
This year, the Skull & Dagger prank was two-fold.
First, members of Skull & Dagger handed out coupons for free food at The Lot, telling students it was part of a fictional “Student Appreciation Day.”
The hoax, however, did not go over well with students or administrators from USC Hospitality.
“Most students are not confused — some are just upset there’s not free food,” said Marc Isaac, a manager at The Lot.
Isaac said The Lot employees were notified of the hoax when a construction worker came into The Lot early Wednesday morning with one of the coupons. Management immediately created signs declaring the coupons invalid, which Isaac said stopped most of the confusion around the prank.
“It’s hindering to our business; [it’s] immature,” Isaac said. “If we didn’t find out about it early in the morning, we would have had lines out the door.”
Though USC Hospitality does offer certain discounts for its eateries, it never offers coupons like those that were part of Skull & Dagger’s prank, said Kris Klinger, director of USC Hospitality.
“It negatively impacted service and the overall feel of The Lot,” Klinger said.
Jin Mitchem, a sophomore majoring in public policy, management and planning, said he found The Lot hoax more harmful than amusing.
“It’s just mean,” Mitchem said. “If it were on April 1, it would be funny, but this is just random.”
The second part of the society’s prank was a stack of microwaves stationed right in front of Tommy Trojan. Next to the microwaves, a sign declared the appliances a tribute to President Steven B. Sample.
The sight of microwaves in the center of campus perplexed many students, such as Joanne Chong, an undecided freshman.
“It’s definitely some kind of statement; I don’t know if it’s funny,” Chong said. “Maybe it’s some sort of environmental statement.”
Nick Hamada, a senior majoring in international relations and a member of Skull & Dagger, said the group gathered the microwaves from a local junkyard to construct a tribute to Sample, who helped invent technology critical to the microwave touchpad.
“The microwaves are a tribute to Sample,” Hamada said. “He invented the touchpad on the microwave … or something electronic in it … and we want to honor him for it.”
Grace Wong contributed to this report.