When most college students sit through their economics class, they can reasonably assume the biggest excitement they’ll have during the period is the occasional meme on a PowerPoint presentation. But a group of University of Georgia students got more than they bargained for last Friday, Feb. 22, when noises from a pornographic video interrupted the class.
The Auburn University sophomore and YouTube prankster Chris Lee visited UGA to film the latest in a series of prank videos for his channel. Lee and his cameraman, Auburn sophomore and industrial engineering major Aidan Kowalski, filmed various pranks around UGA, from asking random women on a date to the more intrusive classroom interruption which gained traction last week on social media.
Lee visited economics professor Kris McWhite’s class on Friday, posing as a normal student. Toward the end of class, Lee put on headphones and began to play noises from a pornographic video from his laptop. UGA junior and finance major Dakota McIntire was in the class and said McWhite’s policy is to stare down any student who pulls out an electric device during class, so the attention was centered on Lee when the noises began playing. Lee feigned embarrassment and ran out of the room, clutching his laptop.
“I like it when people smile. I like it when people laugh, even when it’s at me.”
— Chris Lee, YouTuber
McIntire said he suspected it was a prank based on videos he had seen in the past, but many of the students in the class were shocked and amused and shared their reactions in a GroupMe chat after class.
“I had assumed it was a joke,” McIntire said. “You’re pretty desperate if you’re having to watch that in class.”
The video, which was released on YouTube on Thursday, Feb. 28, shows a general feeling of amusement from the class, many of whom didn’t realize it was a prank.
Lee has produced content for his YouTube channel for years in the form of football highlight videos, but he began to make videos focused on his life in April 2018, in collaboration with Kowalski.
Lee’s first prank video was done with a similar, though tamer, premise to his latest video. In a video titled “EMBARRASSING Songs in LECTURES Prank!!” and two sequels, Lee blasted out songs perhaps better left in middle school, all the while appearing oblivious until the whole class was paying attention.
Lee said while the events were nerve-wracking at first, the attention and reactions he now gets from people during the pranks, as well as his supporters on YouTube, far outweigh any anxiety or awkwardness involved.
“After you get the first two or three on the way, you’re kind of on a roll,” Lee said.
However, some view Lee’s forms of pranks as immature and disruptive, although not necessarily new to this generation.
According to McWhite, 18- to-22-year-old college students, mostly males, have been engaging in “questionable decision making” for hundreds of years.
“The only difference is now there are video, phones and the internet, and you do not need any real talent to seek ‘internet fame,’’’ McWhite said in an email. “That is just the world now.”
Lee came to UGA in part because he was becoming too recognizable at Auburn. According to Lee, the university’s administration made him take down a video he filmed on campus, and he was suspended from the recreation center for two weeks. Because of this attention, he’s decided to branch out to other universities.
“I get the impression some students think if it isn’t an illegal action they are in the clear and that is not the case. I don’t think many students realize what they implicitly agreed to when they come to a university.”
— Kris McWhite, UGA professor
“Auburn really has their eye on me right now,” Lee said. “I guess they monitor me in a way.”
However, an attempt at humor can have consequences if you cross “universities lines,” according to McWhite. Sometimes students must learn the hard way and today internet fame also amounts to self-incrimination, he said in an email.
According to the UGA Code of Conduct, it “[provides] students with expectations for behavior that [uphold] the principles outlined in the Pillars of the Arch.” However, McWhite said most students don’t read it and “learn when it’s too late.”
“I get the impression some students think if it isn’t an illegal action they are in the clear and that is not the case,” McWhite said in an email. “I don’t think many students realize what they implicitly agreed to when they come to a university.”
Lee traveled to the Georgia Institute of Technology to film the third part of his embarrassing music series but said he preferred his experience in Athens. He’s originally from Georgia, so Lee had friends to stay with and he felt the Athens students took his pranks better than the Georgia Tech students.
“I would say it's like the same type of people as Auburn,” Lee said. “At Georgia Tech they were kind of uptight, but at Georgia we had a great reaction I think.”
Both Lee and Kowalski were pleased with the students’ reactions and said they were going to repeat the prank but word had spread by the time they got to the next class.
The pranksters are grateful for the amount of attention the videos have received from onlookers on social media, as it helps him gain followers and subscribers.
However, many of the posts don’t give him credit for the prank and he loses out on potential followers because of it, which is frustrating, Lee said.
“You just don’t know what’s gonna happen,” Kowalski said. “That's kind of the fun part because we don't know where we’re going to get a good reaction or not.”
While many students found the situation amusing, the professor teaching the course, McWhite, had a stronger reaction. McWhite submitted a police report to the UGA Police Department later the same day to describing the incident and the potential connection to Lee’s channel.
“As a professional responsibility on my part, it was referred and now is in the hands of the Auburn University Student Conduct Office as a code of conduct/student behavior issue,” McWhite said in an email. “They consider this a very serious matter with possible outcomes that … would not go over well.”
Lee said he enjoyed the professor’s reaction immediately after the event. McWhite can be heard in the video saying he finally has a good college story. McIntire said McWhite ended class right after the occurrence and offered a $10 reward for the first person to send him three, high-quality videos of the occurrence.
Senior Jessica Lee attends UGA but had plans to travel home before she knew her brother was coming to the university to perform some pranks. Jessica Lee said her family is proud of Lee and what he’s accomplished with his YouTube channel.
Jessica Lee also said she’s enjoyed watching Lee’s confidence grow as he gains more support online. She trusts Lee not to go too far with his pranks and likes how he puts himself into the videos to make them unique.
“He has the final word on what he wants to do,” Jessica Lee said. “I don’t think anyone can change his mind on that.”
The pranking duo hopes to keep making similar videos at colleges and to keep bringing new elements into their pranks. Lee said some people criticize him by saying he’s just copying YouTubers such as NELK, but Lee just sees channels like NELK as inspiration. He likes performing pranks at universities because he feels the students give the reaction he wants.
“I like it when people smile,” Lee said. “I like it when people laugh, even when it’s at me.”