One night at dinner, Lukas DeSimone HM ’20 approached Skipper Gonzalez HM ’19 with a “sus” idea: “What would happen if we flushed every single toilet in our dorm at once?”
After hearing the plan, “I pretty much dropped my fork in my hand while he was saying it,” Gonzalez said. “It was one of the most incredible things I had ever heard.”
From there, they proclaimed it was “email time,” referring to the unofficial email group for North dorm often used for planning ridiculous and silly events.
On Feb. 22, the two pranksters put their plan into action. Harvey Mudd College’s North Dorm flushed every toilet in the dorm at once — known as The Big Flush™️ — just to see what would happen.
Despite the imagination and impressive scale of the proposal, the flushers did not expect anything to come of it, assuming the toilets were often used in unison because of residents’ similar schedules.
They did, however, come up with absurd hypotheses, and “went around interviewing people,” asking them what they thought might happen, Gonzalez said. Some students predicted the whole dorm would blast off in a jet of water, or perhaps it would start snowing or “poop rockets” would emerge.
Buzz surrounding The Big Flush™️ grew after Gonzalez sent out the email to his dorm-mates — more than two weeks in advance — which included the idea, a list of hypotheses and multiple photos of toilets.
They settled on Feb. 22 during the dorm barbecue at 5:32 p.m.
At least one-fourth of North residents showed up to participate in The Big Flush™️ — at least one person per suite — and some other students from East and West dorms came to watch and show their support.
“We also turned on all the showers before, [but] that was not in the original plan. Someone yelled that and then [the idea] just propagated through the halls,” Gonzalez added.
After debating how to effectively synchronize the flushing, the participants landed on yelling through the halls towards the central courtyard and “just count[ing] down from 20,” Gonzalez explained.
And finally, a few seconds after the countdown had reached zero, people began to shout down to the courtyard with reports of showers turning off and toilets failing to flush.
“We felt in the moment like we had stopped time,” Gonzalez said.
Thirty seconds later, another student screamed that there was “brown water in the sink.”
Ambiguous orangy-brown water — thought to be either “doo doo water” or rust water — began to fill the toilets and sinks around the building.
After the completion of The Big Flush™️, everyone “was just running all over the place, screaming because we had a non-zero effect in this community event,” Gonzalez said.
They even “got some applause” from onlookers from East Dorm, DeSimone said.
Luckily, the brown water never overflowed the toilets or sinks, and “it only took a couple more flushes — not simultaneously of course — to get everyone’s toilets back to normal,” Gonzalez said.
Despite the absurdity and unorthodoxy of the event, DeSimone and Gonzalez agreed it did foster a sense of community among the dorms.
“Because of cultural differences, [East Dorm and North] … sometimes butt heads,” Gonzalez said. “This event stuck out as a time where we actually got along with them a lot better than usual.”
Both Gonzalez and DeSimone have lived in North throughout their time at Mudd, and described a close-knit dorm community.
“In the absence of both Greek life and sufficient amount of time to join clubs, [Mudd students] have found strong culture in the dorms [we] live [in],” Gonzalez said.
Even The Big Flush™️ was an opportunity for them to unite as a North community.
“I was definitely motivated to turn this into an event just out of the absurdism to be had in us joining together in a community to do such a mundane and somewhat gross task of flushing our toilets at the same time,” Gonzalez said.