Source: Culture Trip, Patch (Photoshopped)

Once upon a time, in a land of geese and wind, there existed an academy of mathematics and science hidden among all the corporate warehouses and artificially blue ponds of Aurora, Illinois. Within its walls, there was much sleep deprivation, stress, and procrastination. But, every once and a while, between problem sets and last-minute club meetings, its enterprising young charges managed to make time for a variety of amusing, if sometimes inadvisable, antics. Distorted with time, the best of these remain as warnings and goads, jokes and reminders of things best left undone…

The Vanishing Sub 

In the ‘90s, IMSA bore witness to the grand opening of a nearby Subway, complete with a “giant inflatable sub.” Said sub vanished under mysterious circumstances, only to reappear at a later, unspecified time in residence hall 1501. What became of the sub in its new home is unknown, which begs the question: 1501-ers, is it still there?

See You at Check, I’m Gonna Take a MHD and Go to Florida

Leigh Spencer (‘98) and an anonymous submitter recall that many years ago, a student with superb time management skills boarded a flight to Florida after leaving their dorm in the early hours of the morning. What they did in Florida is anyone’s guess. Maybe they went to Disney or sat on the beach. Rumors suggest that they went on a college visit. But, whatever the case, they were back on campus in time for 10 check, at which point, someone ratted them out, or they couldn’t help but boast, because now rolling check is, inconveniently, a thing.

Bagel Party Every Week?

It is said that once upon a time, Panera would donate all of its unsold bread to IMSA on Tuesdays. Hungry, procrastinating teenagers would flock to the hall commons to devour it. Then, at an unknown time for a tragic, unknown reason, the days of free Tuesday Panera bread came to an end. A call to action if there ever was one. Bread Tuesday must be reinstated!

The Hunter of 150x

In earlier times, it is reported that a particularly sharp-eyed RC (Residence Counselor) saw a kid (After midnight? In an unapproved wing?) through not one, not two, not three, but four panes of glass and, having felt the first thrill of the hunt, sprinted to catch said kid. The kid was presumably captured, and to this day, the RC is enshrined in IMSA history as the fearful, half-mythical “Hunter.”

The Saga of Toilet Pig 

“Someone taped a pig to the inside of their toilet tank.” Oh, dear. Don’t you know that your actions will have repercussions!

A second anonymous submitter recounts a story once told to them during an English class: More than twenty years later, an unspecified down quad (a pair of connected rooms that share a bathroom, located on the first floor of the hall) was subjected to a random search, during which a very thorough RC took the lid off the unfortunate quad’s toilet. They were a well-behaved quad and weren’t expecting any problems, so when the RC discovered a “burrito looking object wrapped in trash bags and duct taped” they were, most likely, unsure of what to do or say. The poor students were separated, the police called, and the suspicious item weighed.

The students must have offended some cosmic force, because the mystery bundle came in at “exactly one kilo.” The cops probably looked at one another knowingly before proceeding to confront the bewildered quad members, who were then interrogated and accused of selling drugs on campus. But, when the police finally worked up the courage to remove the toilet object’s wrappings, what they found was… a fetal pig! Did the police scream? Did the students? Did they think it was a shrunken head—that a murder had transpired!—before the fact registered that the shriveled thing before them was in reality a standard, lab-issued fetal pig? We may never know, but after much confusion, the police left the scene, and the students were absolved of guilt.

After the ordeal, having taken a picture of the pig and posted it to the alumni Facebook page, the students learned that “someone” had put the pig in the toilet tank as a senior prank in 1996. Six months after the incident, the alumni in question apologized “for causing the students so much grief.”

A Challenge for the Fob-Annoyed

Prior to the fob, IMSA is said to have assigned students a piece of plastic known as the security card. Apparently, these security cards were easier to manipulate than fobs, because somewhere along the line, crafty students found a way to change the sex of their wing access. Will someone manage to do the same with fobs? Have they done it already? With the Hunter gone, maybe they won’t get caught.

Illicit Broadcasting 

Once upon a time, a group of IMSA students got tired of problem sets and lab reports and decided that a better use of their time would be to create a “pirate newspaper and radio station.” While the content of this station has, tragically, been lost to time, the possibilities are endless. Most likely, though, it was a revolutionary station bent on disrupting the breadless status quo. To this day, if one listens carefully enough, one may still hear the slogan Bring Back Bread Tuesday whispered in the halls.

Trash Bag Adventures

Having decided that they would escape IMSA no matter what it took, a class of 2018 student was reportedly suspended from a second-story dorm room in a trash bag. Or, maybe they did it in the name of their SIR, Multidimensional Analysis of Trash Bag Elasticity: An Experimental Approach. Did they fall and break their arm? Did they get expelled? Reports of the fallout, or lack thereof, are sparse, but if you look up at 150x on a clear night, you might be the next to sight the darings of a trash bag kid.

“Various Ceiling Escapades”

Including speaker-hacking, boombox planting, and onto the RC’s bed falling, many stories have been told of infamous overhead adventures. Historically, 150x ceilings have been used for pranking, sleuthing, and other unspecified shenanigans. While it’s normal for a building of 150x’s age to make odd noises at odder times, the next time you hear a skittering as you stress over tomorrow’s math test, make sure you take cover beneath your desk, or you may find yourself squashed by an uninvited guest.

“Action Jackson and the Reason There’s a Specified Rule About Going into the Ceilings;” or, “Various Ceiling Escapades” in Detail

Khin Thet Lwin (‘19) and multiple anonymous submitters remember a particular story told by Dr. Skinner, a much-loved former History/Social Sciences teacher: Once upon a time, the halls of IMSA were graced by an exceptionally entrepreneurial student who called himself “Action Jackson.” AJ was a good ol’ southern Illinoisan, born and raised, so what happened next should be no surprise.

It all started with reports of missing chemistry equipment. No cause for alarm: “Perhaps some students from IMSA’s rival school had decided to break in and steal equipment to throw IMSA off for the next big sports game?” Or, “maybe one of the physics professors was doing research into quantum tunneling and somehow accidentally managed to teleport entire macroscopic objects?” But investigations turned up no results. As the school worked itself into a tizzy over the mysterious disappearances, only AJ himself knew what had happened: He had taken the liberty of procuring the resources necessary to distill his favorite beverage, moonshine.

It is speculated that “perhaps if he had kept his wares to himself, he would have been saved from the fate that has ultimately allowed him to continue living on in legend now, but alas, our champion was much too generous for his own good. Like many heroes, his hubris was his own undoing.”

In other words, despite having relocated to the cold, harsh Chicago suburbs, AJ managed to hold on to his southern values. He was generous enough to share his product with his wingmates, a kindness that eventually saw him contribute a chapter to IMSA’s various ceiling escapades.

It was business as usual when, one fateful day, AJ found he had had a bit too much to drink pre-delivery. His life surely flashed before his eyes as he realized that he had crawled to a room other than the intended. But, it was too late. He had already fallen from the ceiling onto the bed, and the bed belonged to his RC.

How the RC responded, the world may never know. Did they freeze or did they run? Did they think they were about to be abducted or robbed? (On the contrary, AJ brought gifts!) Did their life flash before their eyes?

Maintaining his audacity in the face of adversity, AJ ended up appealing to stay at IMSA following the discovery and subsequent downfall of his enterprise. He was defended by Dr. Skinner, who is reported to have retrospectively told his class something along the lines of, “Well, IMSA is supposed to encourage, cultivate, and nurture the expression, sharing, and not just tolerance but embrace of other cultures. So I challenged [the hearing committee], ‘What could possibly be more representative of southern Illinois culture?’”

It was not enough to save Action Jackson from his fate. The bold youth was “finally freed from the restrictive chains” of IMSA. But, he did not depart IMSA without leaving his mark. An addendum to the “off-limit areas” in the student-parent handbook will forever specify that the “crawl space above ceiling tiles” is a no-go for even the most well-intentioned of students. Action Jackson’s legacy lives on.

Grindset Mindset or You’re a Failure! 

Who ever needed social-emotional well-being? You’ll never get anywhere without a perfect GPA, and maybe a 1600 SAT, just for giggles. Harvard, Stanford, MIT… You’re nothing without them! An anonymous submitter would like you to remember the time this toxic philosophy was immortalized during an assembly with the oft-repeated maxim, “7 As is better than 7 friends.” Editor’s note: Please, please don’t become a perfect-on-paper student at the cost of your sanity.

Ruining Midday for Everyone

Meghan (‘19) and an anonymous submitter recall “the well-known origin story of why students aren’t allowed to return to their rooms during the day. It really should be documented for the record.” Thankfully, we are now allowed to return to our rooms whenever we want—but, future classes of IMSA, learn from the mistakes of your elders and make sure you don’t smuggle an adult professional into your room, or that privilege might be taken away.

IMSA Student Awarded Full Ride Scholarship to UIUC…

…for filling in their application with a green crayon, Leigh Spencer (‘98) tells us. Maybe they’ll even give you a stipend if you write in cursive? But, the Common App has no option for color, let alone cursive, text. The creativity of prospective college students is being suppressed, to the point of diminishing their scholarship prospects. Yet another tally against the Common App.

*According to alternative versions of this story, the student’s crayon (of an unspecified color) application earned them admission to UChicago rather than a full ride to UIUC. Then again, it’s possible that crayon applications were submitted to both UChicago and UIUC by different individuals, both of whom were well served by their daring.

The Dangers of Touching Grass

Before Instagram, when people wanted to see “imsa sky <3,” they didn’t click through their stories to find the most recent “add yours” while sitting at the desk of their blinds-closed dorm room. Instead, an anonymous submitter tells us, they sneaked out of said dorm room in the early morning, while the sky was still dark, and found a nice place to watch the sunrise. But, then they were caught, and they probably wished they lived a few years in the future, because their privilege to walk at graduation was revoked.

*The submitter did not specify whether or not this event transpired before or after Instagram was created. But, for the sake of lore…

Breakfast Tastes Better When You Eat It on the Roof

An anonymous submitter and Meghan (‘19) report that the co-founder of a certain multi-billion-dollar media company was expelled for climbing onto the roof. In some versions of the story, the excursion involved pancake making. In addition to bringing back free bread Tuesday, we must find a way to commemorate the great pancake expulsion. Then, IMSA will be a much bread-ier and happier place, in the tradition of the elders.

It’s Not Lemonade

It’s about the right color—an off-yellow, possibly a little cloudy, but you’d not think a thing of it if it had ice cubes. It doesn’t have a straw, either, though. If it hasn’t been emptied in a while, you might see some settling at the bottom. Lemonade with pulp? You smell something rank, almost like… When was the last time your roommate cleaned the bathroom? But, the smell’s coming from the container in front of you. At this point, you can’t deny it, but baba booey (‘23) would still like to confirm that what you’re looking at is “the 04 pee jar.”


Submissions were collected via Google Form. Stories from Facebook were used with permission.

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