An unusual notice urging students not to masturbate in the St Andrews library has become an internet sensation.

The notice, which appeared in the library toilets earlier this month, declared masturbation to be “a violation of the University of St Andrews Library Regulations,” and bore all the hallmarks of an official University communication, including the University’s motto and a University of St Andrews Finance stamp, leading many students to question whether it was real or not.

However, University staff revealed the notice to be a hoax.

Photos of the notice have spread like wildfire across the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, while the stunt has even featured in an article on prominent news website The Huffington Post.

The notice covered a range of topical issues, from the refurbishment of the library – declaring that the new toilet floors are “not designed to handle your semen” – to the rise in tuition fees, stating that semen stains “cost thousands of pounds to be removed and must be reflected in tuition fee rises for next year.”

Former St Andrews student Kate Bowman posted the photo on her Twitter account and was shocked when she found it had been ‘re-tweeted’ over 2000 times in just a matter of days.

Her photo was in such demand that at one point she was receiving roughly “one reply a minute.”

Despite her newfound fame, Kate wanted to applaud the pranksters on their efforts, telling The Saint, “I hope whoever put the sign up is quietly congratulating themselves, they’ve given us all a good laugh.

“Much as it has been interesting to get recognised by strangers as ‘that girl who tweeted about masturbation in the library’ they deserve the limelight, not me!”

St Andrews student Jorge Milburn posted a picture of the notice on his Facebook account, and was baffled when it was re-posted by almost 14,000 other Facebook users.

Milburn wanted to make it clear he was not the person behind the notice, stating: “I am not responsible for it and have no idea who did it. All I know is that it’s gone completely out of proportion.

I’ve had newspapers contact me from all over the place to write articles about it. I have also been receiving hundreds of messages and friend requests per day. Some very flattering, and some swearing at me.”

There were a few St Andrews students who fell for the prank, particularly the notice’s instruction to “enquire at the Library Help Desk if you have any questions.”

Fourth year student Nick Sissling was embarrassed to admit that he went to remonstrate with the librarians, arguing that there was no way that a few stains could be responsible for the hike in tuition fees.

“I realised what I had done straight away. The librarian at the help desk could hardly contain her laughter.  In retrospect, I can’t believe I fell for such an obvious hoax,” Sissling said.

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