A Tennessee university music professor hid a cash prize on campus to see if his students fully read the class syllabus – only to find the crisp $50 bill he had placed in a locker still there at the end of the semester.
Kenyon Wilson, the associate head of performing arts at Tennessee at Chattanooga, decided to hide $50 in a random music locker and bury the combination for the locker in the middle of his syllabus.
The hint read: ‘Thus (free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five), students may be ineligible to make up classes and …’
He even went so far as to set the combination lock on a certain number to verify if it had been moved.
But at the end of the semester, the $50 bill and the note that went along with it were untouched by Wilson’s 70 students.
‘Congrats! Please leave your name and date so I know who found it,’ the unread note requested.
A professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga hid a $50 cash prize on campus to test if any of his 70 students would read the class syllabus throughly
When Kenyon Wilson, the associate head of performing arts at the college, returned to the locked at the end of the semester the locker and cash prize were untouched
Wilson shared the results of his experiment on Facebook with a picture of the unclaimed prize.
‘My semester-long experiment has come to an end. At the start of the term, I placed $50 in one of our lockers and included the locker number & combination in my syllabus for a class with over 70 enrolled. Today I retrieved the unclaimed treasure,’ he posted.
‘What academic shenanigans should I try next?’
Wilson waited to check the locker until after final exams were finished.
‘I had great hopes, and I’d be just as happy having this conversation if one of my students found it on the first week.’ Wilson told CNN.
He shared that all his students have been ‘good sports’ about the prank.
‘I know my students read, and I don’t expect them to religiously go through word-by-word but if they did, I wanted to reward them.’ Wilson said.
Haley Decker was one of the students who failed to claim Wilson’s cash prize.
‘I honestly thought it was hilarious.’ Decker told CNN. ‘This class typically is the same format every semester, so students know what to expect and don’t take the time to read the syllabus like we should.’
Wilson anticipated that none of his students would read the syllabus word for word but wanted to reward anyone that did
Wilson shared his prank on Facebook where it went viral with fellow teachers sharing similar tricks they’ve pulled and others sharing suggestions for future semesters
Decker texted her fellow classmates, who she said all appreciated the joke.
‘I think this was a really smart experiment for Dr. Wilson to test out,’ Decker said. ‘It definitely made the music students realize that despite repetitive information you should still read through your syllabus carefully.’
Wilson’s post sharing his prank went viral on social media with his original Facebook post amassing 1,800 shares and a tweet of his post gathering over 10,000 likes.
Most of the those who replied were amused by Wilson’s prank, with many agreeing that they never read their class syllabus in school. Others encouraged Wilson to repeat his trick.
‘Just do this again it’s brilliant!’ Caroline Yezer commented.
‘Add to it each year until someone takes the prize,’ Brent Barnett suggested.
‘I laughed at this, but it also hurt a little bit,’ Craig L. Millard wrote.
‘Include on page 3 of the syllabus to email you a picture of a dinosaur to get a free A,’ Jason Gonella suggested.
Wilson’s music students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga were ‘good sports’
Others on social media shared the pranks they’ve played on their students or have experienced from their professors.
‘I tried it once, and like the teacher in the original post, got no response. NOBODY READS THE SYLLABUS!’ Valerie J. Andrews said.
‘I have a professor friend who puts ’email me a picture of a monkey for extra credit’ in her syllabus,’ Neal Hunt recalled.
‘I have ‘draw a picture of a camel on the first quiz’ in my syllabus,’ Pamela Johnston said.
Wilson is happy with the reaction from his students and online fans.
‘Perhaps spring 2022 will be the most well-read syllabi ever’ he said.