An unusual sight greeted students as they walked towards Gelb Science Center last Friday morning. Glistening in the sun, a heap of plastic bags filled with tiny goldfish sat waiting for students to take. News quickly spread as students rushed over to see whether or not they could acquire a free pet of their own. The prank was rumored to be the responsibility of the secret society T.U.B., though the perpetrators have yet to be caught.
Patricia Thompson ’19 was walking by the Gelb lawn when, she says, she witnessed the fish being set out.
“I was walking out of my dorm around 7:00 a.m. and I saw three or four people – they looked like guys – running around in black hoodies and they were carrying this box. I saw them dump the box out in front of Gelb and in the box were these bags of goldfish. After they dumped the box out, they picked it up and sprinted away,” Thompson said.
Throughout the day, students were seen carrying plastic bags filled with water and one or two goldfishes to their classes. Many are now kept as pets in dorms around campus, and the Biology Department put the remaining fish into its aquarium.
Leon Holley, Chair of the Biology Department, wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “I was certainly surprised by it, and it created a lot of work for our lab technician, Ms. Poulin, as she tried to place all the new fish in our existing aquaria.”
Holley continued, “Some students in the building at this time wanted fish for their rooms. Though well intended, students taking fish to their dorms without having fish bowls, food, etc., isn’t a recipe for survival for the fish. All things considered, it may have a been an effective prank for someone but it turned out to be a big deal for the biology department.”
Makenna Marshall ’18 was worried that students on campus may not be properly equipped to care for the fish. According to Marshall’s research, the average goldfish requires at least 10 gallons of water to live comfortably, although the number could be as high as 20 gallons depending on the species.
“I think the prank was horribly barbaric considering the type of fish they used for the prank is something we, as students, are not capable of taking care of well. The common misconception about goldfish is that they belong in small bowls… Students here cannot afford or should not have to worry about a 20 gallon tank, an air filter, and a water oxygenator. It’s just insane. I just feel like the reason that secret societies shouldn’t exist is because they should be able to be held accountable for things like this. But other than that, they don’t do any harm,” said Marshall.
“I prefer that we don’t have secret societies and people do get held accountable when they do dumb things. But thus far, other secret societies haven’t harmed us at all,” said Marshall.
Victoria Lopez ’20, who was headed towards her Biology class first period when she noticed the bags of fish lying outside, said, “Some of the bags had dead fish inside them and some of them were alive, and it was a very weird thing to wake up to. I still have my fish. They’re doing fine. A lot of fish actually died and some people have been mistreating their fish.”