Skule Gravy Train (2010)
The Skule Gravy Train was a prank originally intended to become a Skule-organized food drive at City Hall. On Dec, 5th 2010 a large train was constructed to hold food and was placed at City Hall. The train was a reference to newly-elected Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's campaign promise to "stop the gravy train" (cease wasteful spending at City Hall). A mannequin of Rob Ford was made holding a "stop" sign and was placed next to the train. However, the group of students constructing the train were caught by City security shortly after it was finished and were ordered to remove the train from the premises. The train was then moved to Front Campus to fulfill its original purpose of starting a public food drive.
Planning and Preparation
Shortly after Rob Ford was elected Mayor, the Brute Force Committee along with the Engineering Society Community Outreach Director created a plan to build a "Gravy Train" that would act as a food drive. The idea came from Rob Ford's mayoral campaign to "Stop the Gravy Train". The students decided to use the slogan as a joke and place the train at Nathan Phillips Square, where high foot traffic was expected. During the week leading up to Dec. 5th, the train was constructed in the Sandford Fleming Atrium. It was approximately 24 feet long and approximately 8 feet tall. As well, a very fat mannequin was made depicting Mayor-elect Ford holding a stop sign in reference to his campaign quote.
Transportation and Installation
As the train neared completion, the issue of transportation became an increasing concern. Instead of the original plan of simply carrying it, a few students acquired two pick-up trucks and cars and the train was transported one section at time. In under an hour, the train was all at City Hall with a large group of students working on assembling it. Soon after the train was assembled, students began filling the train with food previously donated.
As the train was being finished, a City Hall security guard saw the students and instructed them to leave, or they would be charged with trespassing, as well as receiving an invoice for removal of the train. Instead of simply leaving, a few students remained to try and reason with the guard, during which time the police were called in. The police gave the students one hour to remove the train or they would be charged. The trucks were subsequently called back in and in under 45 minutes the 28-foot train was disassembled and transported back to campus. The train was rebuilt on Front Campus.
In the early hours of Dec. 6th, the train was finished on Front Campus and several hundred dollars worth of food were placed inside. The train remained there until the end of exams, after which the food was donated to a local food shelter.
Media Coverage and Response
As the police and security guard were talking to the students at City Hall, a few other students were attempting to contact different news stations and newspapers in an attempt to get the media on their side. A few students went to the Toronto Star, CP24 and the Globe and Mail trying to bring representatives to City Hall. Although no media ventured to City Hall, there were several articles written about the train, most notably in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail. The students also received praise from Dean Cristina Amon in the Faculty's monthly Engineering E-Newsletter to students.