‘Devious lick’ challenge has students nationwide – and locally – stealing soap, moving toilets, and other pranks

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  • Soap was taken out of the men’s restroom and thrown onto the Pioneer roof.

  • A bar of soap was discovered in the men’s restroom…possibly as part of the “Angelic Yield” TikTok trend, a parody of the original “Devious Lick” trend.

  • A soap dispenser in a women’s bathroom was removed, along with the top.

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The “devious lick” challenge – an internet phenomenon encouraging students to steal or damage school property and share a video with the corresponding #deviouslick hashtag on TikTok – has become a craze, and a menace, with over 90,000 videos surfacing of students nationwide committing school theft of anything from staples to toilets, and it has now found its way to Pioneer and other surrounding high schools.

“Somebody colored all of the buttons on the elevator, and somebody else took the soap bottles out of the soap dispensers in the guy’s bathroom and threw them on the roof,” said Pioneer Principal Tracey Lowder. 

Lowder isn’t the only one who’s picked up on the trend in action. “Somebody grabbed my foot while I was peeing, and somebody devious licked my Bernie sticker off my car,” said Pioneer junior Henna Mahmood. “I also keep getting chocolate milk cartons under my car wheels, and someone messed with my lug nuts, which could have killed me.”

Indeed, there have been quite a few minor instances of the challenge occurring at Pioneer. However, while none have been excessively damaging to school or personal property, surrounding school districts have not been so lucky. Saline and Jackson high schools in particular have experienced the brunt of the trendy nuisance locally.

“At Saline High School, students took hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of yard sale signs and put them in the yard in front of the high school and said that Saline High School was for sale,” said Lowder.

Jackson encountered an even more unfortunate predicament. “In Jackson High School, a whole toilet was stolen from the bathrooms and put into the elevator,” Lowder continued. “I’m not even kidding: the whole toilet. How do you pick up a whole toilet? How much work does it take to get a whole toilet into the elevator?”

Lowder remains wary of the possibility of similar more serious incidents occurring at Pioneer. “Here’s the deal: not a whole lot has happened at Pioneer yet, and I would love to think that Pioneer students are above that, but I’m cautious that something worse might happen,” he said.

Confronted with this worry, along with the experiences of neighboring school districts, Lowder decided to enforce strict punishments upon those caught participating in the challenge. Any student caught trying to participate in the challenge, whether it be stealing a paper towel dispenser or damaging the building, will be faced with a 10-day suspension. “During that suspension, I will be filing any charges I can to figure out a way to give you an expulsion out of here, because if you’re going to vandalize our building and tear things up, you don’t need to be here,” Lowder announced in a school-wide informational video last Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty funny challenge, but I do understand why the administration’s mad about it,” said Pioneer senior Ari Jacob, voicing his support for the strict punishment. “For somebody who’s stealing something that’s not too important, the administration’s response seems like an overreaction. But I understand that the admin has to stop [the trend] from happening so it doesn’t get out of control and that having a harsh punishment is a good way to keep people in line.”

To ensure the regular maintenance of lavatories, Lowder has scheduled the cycling of custodial staff to bathrooms two to three times per hour. “Unfortunate things happen in the bathrooms regularly, and while I have four or five or 10 idiots who trash our bathrooms, I also have 1,500 kids who do what they’re supposed to do every day. I can’t let that small group screw it up for everybody else. Our students don’t deserve dysfunctional bathrooms,” he said.

Managing ordinary student pranks is hard enough, Lowder added, without the addition of a nationwide online challenge encouraging extreme pranks for bragging rights.

“We have a lot to worry about here,” he said. “Not only do we have to worry about this screwball challenge, but we also have those regular incidents still happening – toilet paper on the floor, hinges taken off the doors, and pizza thrown in the toilet. That’s just normal Pioneer stuff.”

Lowder expressed absolute bewilderment with how food could end up in toilets in the first place. “Who the heck eats their lunch in the bathroom? Why would you eat your lunch – why would you take food that you’re going to consume – and take it into the bathroom? That’s just…yuck.”

In the weeks since the challenge’s introduction, TikTok has taken steps to counteract the damage it caused in schools around the world, given that the behavior violated its community posting guidelines. The associated hashtag (#deviouslick) no longer returns any search results, and every affiliated video seems to have been wiped completely off the platform. However, deliberately misspelled variations of the tag (#devisousilck, #divousick) show that the platform wasn’t completely successful in shutting it down.

Even so, the trend seems to be quieting down, and schools have even seen a trend in the opposite direction with the so-called  “angelic yield challenge,” the antithesis of a “devious lick.” Creators atone for their sins from the “devious lick” by leaving materials in public places for others to use, which has included money, toilet paper, soap, coffee makers, and even door mats. “Smiling All Day Long,” the TikTok audio under which videos of the “angelic yield” challenge are typically posted, boasts over 4,700 featured videos, and the hashtag #angelicyield has been viewed over 29.4 million times to date.

In the meantime, Lowder remains hopeful that nothing too bad will happen to the school in regards to the “devious lick” challenge. “So far our kids have been pretty good. We’ve got a few things happening, but nothing as bad as what’s going on at other schools. Knock on wood. In the meantime, I cross my fingers every day hoping something dumb isn’t going to come up and somebody’s going to come to me and say, “‘Yeah, Lowder, they went in, they were mad, and they had one toilet on top of another toilet on top of another toilet.’ ”

“If that happens, I’m going to lose my mind,” he said.