The Order of Pi, made up of a group of UVic engineering students, is continuing its fundraising tradition the week of March 10. The event this year will mark the group’s 20th year of raising money for the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.
The UVic Engineering Student Society created the Order of Pi in 1994, to “give the citizens of Victoria a means to redress the petty crimes perpetrated against them by their friends and loved ones.” The Order of Pi carries out the punishment for these crimes by pushing a pie, cream first, into the guilty person’s face, after a mock trial.
The Order of Pi prefers the accused to be a friend, co-worker, or someone who is well known to the accuser, because the actual event is all in good spirits. The accuser is also responsible for the accused to be in the correct place at the correct time for the event, so a good relationship with the accused helps. The Order of Pi then walks across campus from the Engineering and Computer Science building, dressed in robes and playing the “Pythagorythm” chant over speakers as they walk to the location.
This year’s Order of Pi co-ordinator, Angus Hudson, says, “We’ll arrive, we’ll announce ourselves, the ‘Counsellor’ announces this is who we are, that someone has been named as the accused. It’s sort of a performance. We like to give people something for their donation. There’s a mock trial. Someone is always guilty.”
The Order gets its pies from various retailers. If they are not donated, the organizers attempt to purchase the cheapest possible pies. However, the Order is aware that some who are accused may have allergies, and accommodations are made, such as filling an empty pie plate with whipped cream to avoid a possible nut allergy reaction. The Order also makes sure that the messy event isn’t too messy for the accused or campus; the group offers a hood that prevents the pie getting on the accused’s clothing and carries paper towel to clean up anything that drops on the ground. To avoid food waste, the leftover pie goes in a bag for the accused to have if they wish. A warrant is also given to the accused, which prevents them from being accused for the rest of the event.
Last year, the Order raised $3 315.05, and this year the fundraising goal is $4 000. The money is raised through minimum 20-dollar donations to accuse a person of a crime; however, accusers may donate as much as they like. Oftentimes, the amount someone originally donates is part of the strategy to get someone pied, because the accused has the option to get out of the underpaid punishment. If the accused can beat the original donation by $5, they can bounce their pie to someone else in the vicinity. However, because the Order of Pi wants to keep the event enjoyable, an accused person does not have to participate if they really don’t want to.
Accusers are able to pay their donations through debit and cash; however, those accused must have the money in cash readily available to them, if they wish to bounce the accusation. Many people do carry extra money with them during the week of the event, in case they are accused. One year, Hudson says, “a Computer Science prof brought $200 worth of cash to class with him that week. He knew that something was going to happen. So we had a bidding war, both him and the students. I think the students did end up getting him with a donation of $325 or something, and he wanted to try and not get pied.”
Reactions to being accused vary, but usually those accused are surprised or nervous because they are in front of their friends or peers. Nevertheless, Hudson says, “Usually the last thing people say before they get pied is something along the lines of ‘I’m going to get you tomorrow.’”