Sometimes, Penn State can be a weird place. It’s a place where students take selfies with their head football coach, fans challenge the former head football coach to a cage match, and squirrels become lifelong friends. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous things people post on State College Craigslist.
But, what happens in classrooms, behind closed doors, when students are learning from esteemed college professors with advanced degrees? Surely nothing strange, right? Well, we asked readers to share their wackiest, strangest, most bizarre encounters with professors at Penn State. And boy, were we not disappointed.
Without further ado, here’s a sample of some of the strangest tales from classrooms across the campus of University Park.
A junior studying plant science was surprised to find his professor was quietly babysitting a special friend during Entomology 313.
What Happened: “Near the end of one of my classes, (my professor) was talking about how insects respond to different stimuli. ‘Some exhibit negative phototaxis and move away from light. That’s why this guy has been in here the whole class,’ he said as he pulls a hissing cockroach out of his front shirt pocket. Can’t say I saw that one coming.”
The Reaction: “Mostly smiles and heads shaking with a few yells of of ‘ewww gross’.”
A history major from the class of 2013 was mortified when he was casually made aware of his professor’s “condition” during Spanish class.
What Happened: “Roughly half-way through the semester, my professor came to class and seemed out of it. He went about teaching, but in the middle of the lesson, he paused, turned around and told the class that in the event he became belligerent to call campus police, and he proceeded to point to the phone in the classroom. Apparently he was diabetic and hadn’t had very much sugar that day, which he elected not to tell us until later that semester.”
The Reaction: “I’d generalize it as fear and morbid curiosity.”
Even in class, you can’t escape Miley Cyrus, says a sophomore kinesiology major. For the students of Chem 112, one demonstration went a little too far.
What Happened: “A demonstration of the M-Cyrus Virus. It included professors and TA’s twerking to We Can’t Stop (with a teddy bear backpack) among other songs. It took the entire class and they were all running around screaming like ‘mad scientists’ trying to save the human population from this M-Cyrus Virus. WEIRD.”
The Reaction: “Everyone was in shock for the first 5 minutes. The following 45 minutes consisted of some laughter and a lot of iPhone videos. The end result was a complete WTF.”
A senior in Stat 200 was taking notes when his professor experienced some, shall we say, bowel movements?
What Happened: “The first night of my 3 hour long night class my professor was writing a stat equation on the board. All of the sudden, he turned around, and had a worried look on his face and said ‘oh God. I’ll be right back’ and he ran out of the room. About 20 minutes later, he returned in a different pair of pants. When a student asked him if he was okay, he simply exclaimed ‘I had some stomach troubles.'”
The Reaction: “At first we were confused as to why he ran out, but we were all laughing (quietly of course) when he returned and explained.”
Well, this one speaks for itself.
What Happened: “Everything Sam Richards has ever said or done.”
The Reaction: “Laughter, general discomfort, wide eyes, gasps, and plenty of tweets with #soc119 at the end.”
A mechanical engineering graduate recalled a bizarre demonstration by his professor in Sociology 001.
What Happened: “One day in class, the professor asked if anyone had a cigarette and a lighter. He proceeded to put on a red clown nose, put the cigarette in his mouth, and light it up. He walked around the classroom for a few minutes wearing a red clown nose and smoking the cigarette.”
The Reaction: “Many people chuckled slightly while some were confused, but most just coughed and gagged from the smoke.”
A health policy and administration student remembers the time God got pissed at his BI SCI professor.
What Happened: “It was the day we had the minor earthquake in September 2011. It was syllabus week and I was in BI SC 002 Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution. The professor said, ‘By the end of this semester, I will prove to you that no matter what religion or God you believe in, we were created by evolving by the Big Bang.’ All of a sudden on the 3rd floor of Willard, everything started to shake, even the old school desks that were bolted down to the floor. No one had any idea what happened. I thought it was just from the construction on campus. Everyone was a little shaken. Then the professor said, ‘OK, that’s enough for today.’ And we left 20 minutes early.”
The Reaction: “They were a little weirded out.”
A junior majoring in aerospace engineering remembers his professor choosing the worst possible method of identifying a student in math class.
What Happened: “The professor in this math class would call on students to answer questions through the class. He didn’t know anyone’s name so he called on people based on descriptions of that person. ‘You in the pink. You with the blue hat.’ One day he posed a question (I remember telling the same story right after the class and even then I couldn’t remember what the question was) ‘you the man in the second row. The black man.'”
The Reaction: “I sat in the first row and did a very slow, shocking turn of my head, trying not to make it obvious. My eyes met with a girl in the second row and her eyes grew three sizes that day.”
One math professor took acting to a whole ‘nother level, says a sophomore in energy business and finance.
What Happened: “I had a professor come to class dressed as ‘Count Calculus.’ I shit you not, he even put on makeup to make his face paper white and put on and accent. He stayed in character the whole class and insisted that he killed the real professor.”
The Reaction: “We all kind of laughed and then told him he could stop being so weird and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. The guy wore a cape.”
Sometimes, the professor doesn’t have do anything weird. According to a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, they just have to set the scene and let the weirdness happen.
What Happened: “My professor brings his dog to class because it is epileptic and he has to always take care of it. The only problem is that he lets it roam around while he’s lecturing, and the other day it mounted a dude and was humping the shit out of him for about five minutes before my professor did anything about it.”
The Reaction: “Everybody just stared and let it happen. It was really just too hilarious to say anything.”
Now, when you make a list such as this, tradition dictates you save the best for last. As a reward for those who stuck around to read the entire post (or even if you accidentally scrolled to the bottom of the page), this is for you.
A senior studying political science recalls a truly horrific experience in his BI SCI class. What has been seen cannot be unseen.
What Happened: “We’re sitting in 100 Thomas waiting for class to start. A little girl, maybe 4, is running up and down the aisles giggling. No one has any idea who she is and it’s a little creepy. Class starts and he gives his usual talk about how we’re on this Bi Sci ‘journey’ together. Side note: it feels like a cult 95 percent of the time. But anyway, he explains he has someone here to help explain a personal story today. I assume it’s the little girl. I was mistaken. Disembodied voice comes through the microphone out of nowhere. Everyone looks around and there’s a middle aged woman just sitting amongst us in 100 Thomas. The topic: Home birthing. HOME BIRTHING. This, as it turns out, is (my professor’s) ‘partner’ and the little girl in question is in fact his daughter. She’s tells the story of how she gave birth to this little girl in a baby pool in their basement. AND THERE ARE PICTURES. ON THE JUMBO-TRON SIZED PROJECTOR IN 100 THOMAS. Pictures of the Professor’s ‘partner’ standing in a baby pool in her basement giving birth. I was losing my shit.”
The Reaction: “Abject horror. I was speechless. I looked around 100 Thomas to see a mix of disbelief and nausea. I could only laugh about when the shock wore off sometime later.”