What is primarily a social media engagement campaign, April Fool’s at Oakland University has evolved into a multi-pronged communication effort that has become a tradition in its own right. April Fool’s is an opportunity to creatively engage with the entire OU community with potential far-reaching and long-lasting benefits.
While it might seem cruel in the moment, April Fool's has proven to be a fun and lighthearted event that people talk about for years to come. And nobody is exempt. More than 200 students, faculty, and staff members stopped by to pet the grizzly cubs and more than 50,000 people saw the posts on social media before 2 p.m. on Friday.
This year, OU's social media team worked with campus partners such as the Psychology Department and Graham Health Center to provide expertise on April Fool's as well as de-stress tips.
A running joke:
- 2013 - Bear Lake goes all-sports - promoted summer course registration
- 2014 - Post-apocalyptic studies major announced - highlighted OU's academic programs and faculty expertise on this trending topic
- 2015 - Long-rumored tunnels discovered by students, renovations planned - brought together alumni and current students as they rallied around this longstanding campus folklore
- 2016 - Pre-finals de-stress event brings grizzly bear cubs to campus - promotes the benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy and Graham Health Center's available assistance
See photos on Facebook
The psychology behind April Fool's:
Michele Parkhill Purdie, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at OU. She spoke with local media about the benefits of a good April Fool's joke. Hear Dr. Michele Parkill Purdie's interview on WWJ.
"There is a psychology behind pranks like this. For those being pranked, the prank itself (and then subsequently 'getting' the joke) allows for a bit of self-reflection and perhaps even being humbled. We realize that others can 'get' us with a prank. Across both the prankers and pranked, there's a huge element of group cohesion. These pranks, particularly because they are being played out on such a big level, will create a greater identification with the OU community. Students will feel a bit more connected — it's something they can all laugh about. And years down the road, I would bet a lot of students will reflect on these pranks very positively. A university — stereotypically a staunch, serious place of study — is demonstrating that we can have fun around here. It's good for everyone involved."