The great VisCom swindle confuses, entertains students

By Olivia Willoughby

“Let’s face it. You need a man.”

According to posters throughout campus, people can join a “marriage club”, “rent a baby today” and perhaps even try out “pot-on-a-cob” before graduating.

Leif Allmendinger, professor of Visual Communication, spearheaded the campaign and said the posters were harmless jokes to see what the public thinks.

“I asked students to create a hoax and it’s absolutely perfect,” Allmendinger said. “Students have the chance to create a message and observe how people react.”

Their goal is not to deface campus property, Allmendinger said. “It’s a great chance to see how people respond to communication,” Allmendinger said.

“The students do this with certain responsibility,” Allmendinger said. “We’re not about vandalism in any way. The reason for the hoax is to create a message so students have the chance to put it up to the public. Students really learn a lot by doing this.”

The idea of the NIU Marriage Club created by the non-existent NIU Feminist Resource Center mentioned in the poster, was spawned by a line by feminist Gloria Steinem, Allmendinger said.

“In this case, it’s an obvious satire on Gloria’s line that ‘a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,'” Allmendinger said. “It’s a phony source. There’s no NIU Feminist Resource Center on campus. I asked my students not to use real campus units.”

The misspelling of the university name can be found within the poster.

“There’s a strong hint that there’s a hoax,” Allmendinger said.

Allmendinger said he wishes for the identity of the poster’s creator, as well as those of other students that have created several others, to remain anonymous. By following the link on the poster,, participants discover that not only is there no Feminist Resource Center, but also no marriage club on campus.

Allmendinger also said there are going to be more posters around campus. Some students that work near these posters, like junior psychology major Jordan Moore, say the fake messages do not bother them. Moore said her opinion did not change after discovering the poster was a hoax.

“It’s definitely in a perfect place,” Moore said. “It makes me wonder how many people saw that. It’s funny but confusing. It says ‘you need a man,’ but it’s from feminists. It’s a little contradicting.”

Some other students decided to read into the poster before figuring out what it was for. Irena Steflja, senior family, consumer and nutrition sciences major, said she at first thought there was a club focused on getting NIU students to think about marriage.

“We’re too young to focus on marriage,” Steflja said. “We should pursue our degree, get a job and then think about marriage. I’m kind of disturbed.”

After getting an idea of the real message behind the fake marriage club’s poster, Steflja said she found it less disturbing.

A previous case involved a poster containing the words “Dorms Will Be Sprayed,” warning students to remove their banned possessions such as plutonium and switchblades from their rooms. Allmendinger said he received a profanity-laced email from a student who almost believed the poster.

“The student said ‘you almost caught me,'” Allmendinger said. “That was the best response.”

Despite the mix up, he also said the posters can promote life skills outside of the hoax project.

“I don’t think it’s bad for anybody because when students graduate from college, they should graduate with a good BS detector,” Allmendinger said. “It’s important for students to graduate with a certain degree of skepticism.”

While Allmendinger said he does not want the locations of the posters published, students are welcome to go on their own scavenger hunts and find the posters listed on the website at