You are on page 1of 5

Extraordinary Public Meeting organized by the Faculty-Student Liaison Committee Chairperson. Dr.

Wayne Foster: Our university faces serious challenges, perhaps the most serious since its foundation only five years ago as a seat of learning devoted to liberal and humanitarian values and a commitment to the most scrupulous standards of objectivity and voracity. It has become renowned worldwide for academic excellence and its cutting edge research activity. I have no doubt that we will preserve and defend our reputation and standards against all comers, but the dragon we must fight today is not some basilisk straight out of a Harry Potter film but a monster nonetheless, and one with a mighty power to crunch (laughter) .I can tell from your reactions, ladies and gentlemen, that you know what I mean: Yes, the ever-worsening financial crisis affecting the world economy and every major industrial and commercial organization that depends on it! Even here in our august halls of learning we sense uneasily that all is not well in the surrounding forecourt, as though Grendel or his mother were prowling around in the shadows of the night. (werewolf howl from the audience then laughter). No more fun tangents please! The raft of problems we now face comprises the following issues: Fewer private students can afford our tuition fees and their own maintenance expenses. Our stock market assets and equity have shrunk as a result of turmoil in the world of banking. Consequently, unless effective countermeasures are now taken, we may soon lack the resources to finance our ambitious research programmes, invest in state-of-the-art computer systems and even maintain the present numbers of courses offered to our students, which inevitably would have implications for our capacity to increase - or even sustain - the numbers of staff employed. (expressions of unrest from the audience) No, I do not mean to unsettle any of you or spread alarm and despondency. We can we must we will face all present and potential threats to our present very strong position, and in cooperation with some of my fellow members of the central control committee I will outline our strategy to combat the dangers of the present time. The lines of defence we propose can be identified under the following headings: Patronage, reallocation of resources, orientation to the future. May I now introduce my first expert, the forward planner , Dr. Frieda Goldsmith. Dr Frieda Goldsmith Ladies and Gentleman,

Let me get to the point, not being one to beat about the bush! One way to meet the shortfall in our budget is to invite and accept funding from financially strong benefactors and organizations supporting educational and social advance. As to the supply of offers I see every reason to be sanguine. We enjoy the prospect of considerable assistance in the form of donations, interest-free loans, and generous scholarships and student support schemes from various sources. Details will be made public in due course. (1. voice from audience) Name them now! (2. voice) He who pays the piper calls the tune. (3. voice) No strings attached, really? As I said, details will be made in due course. Thank you. ***************************************************************** ******** Chairperson: Thank you Dr. Goldsmith for your precise and honest statement, which gave no cause for the impertinent interruptions it incurred. It is not appropriate here to raise the spectre of Big Brother. Every university is grateful to those generous and disinterested donors that play an integral part in modern university education. Our next speaker is Dr. Dominic Crawley, our resource allocation specialist, who will clarify some other points under discussion. Voice from the audience: See you later allocator. (Laughter, some jeering, slow clapping. Hammer thud on chairpersons table). ***************************************************************** ******** Dr. Dominic Crawley Mr Chairman, ladies and students, gentlemen, members of faculty and

I gather from the utterances of some present that not everyone understands the nature of the tasks and responsibilities of the university allocation commission, tasks which complement and strengthen all efforts made to present a glowing yet faithful image of our university to the world in general and potential beneficiaries and benefactors in particular. The position of a modern forward-looking university such as ours

is in some ways better off in this period of economic recession that it might have been otherwise. Education, particularly university education, is one of the few fields likely to derive immense benefit from government-sponsored stimulus packages, for, as we all know, there is no better way to invest in future prosperity than to cultivate learning and research. However, there is a vital caveat to consider. Governments and quasi-governmental authorities such as the supervisors of sovereign funds will scrutinize most carefully all institutes of learning as to whether they fulfil certain criteria. Are they using their resources efficiently? Are they striving to satisfy the expectations of their students and their benefactors? Do they tolerate wastage, perhaps by supporting the interests of tiny unproductive minorities? Do they condone frivolous and unseemly activities? In this connection I might refer to the fact that a former member of the English department spent several weeks in New York on a university-sponsored research grant promoting studies in the poetry of Dylan Thomas only to spend most of his time at the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village drinking whiskey shots and beer, apparently to empathise with the great poet, who did indeed frequent that place during the last year of his life and it was there that he guzzled those final 18 shots which led to his death in St. Vincents Hospital only a block away. In the coming weeks representatives of sponsoring organizations will be inspecting many lectures, seminars and tutorials. So as to facilitate the smooth running of events, these inspectors will observe tutors and students with the help of close circuit television cameras. (Uproar At least you can afford them!) I assure you that there is no definite plan to install this surveillance system permanently, however advantageous that might prove in the long term. (Comment: Thin end of the wedge though) However, as far as the immediate review is concerned, our sponsors are unlikely to be long-haired loonies or spinners of fanciful esoteric theories, so I advise caution on the part of our lecturers and tutors that they avoid controversial topics that might offend the sensibilities of those representing major political parties, churches and corporations. May I remind you that in the face of financial difficulties the universitys cost effective experts now consider axing courses attracting less than 15 student participants, meaning most probably that only mainstream concerns and subjects will be given priority. These are hard times, ladies and gentlemen. Clapping from some quarter, booing and hissing from others

At the Local: The Black Horse Student 1: The bloody cheek! Video surveillance. We cant stand for that, can we? Student 2: Not on your nelly , mate. This is an intrusion into our basic rights! why should our opinions concern snoopers from outside? Student 3: Maybe our views can be recorded, filed and held against us. Student 2: I suspect that creepy-crawly guy is behind it all. Student 1: Hes just a henchman. Its the beginning of 1984 , you know, thought control by dark forces in government, the illuminati, for all we know. Female Student 4: So what do we do, guys? Student 3: Boycott the campus when these snoopers turn up? Student 1: Thats risky. You can bet your bottom dollar that the usual nerds, lapdogs and spoilt princesses wont join in, and without solidarity the authorities will divide and rule. Student 2: But we cant let this go unanswered. Youre dead right! We cant. Female student 4: Couldnt we organize some kind of alternative like a rally or something? Students 1: Hmm, but not near the campus as trespassing or worse. Student 3: Hmmm.. Ive an idea. Students: What? they might accuse us of

Student 3: What about organizing an outing to the woods? Student 2. Some kind of teddy bears picnic? Student 3: No, seriously. Theres been a lot of talk about some kind of open-air event with music. poetry readings, open mike, even plays or sketches at least. theres that open space near the Abbey ruins and the surrounding wooded knoll. Student 4: Year, why not, fellas? Student 1: Listen up, folks. Lets call a union meeting and invite societies and student clubs to put on shows. The dramatic society for example. Theyve got a lot of gear at their disposal, costumes and the like. Student 3. The same goes for the various cultural societies. Lets make it a multi-culti affair and maybe engage the Chinese students. They can do their dragon parade like they did for the Chinese new year. General agreement: Great! Student 2: But wholl bear the costs? The union has funds at its disposal for cultural events, or otherwise we can organize a whip-round, and some of the staff will sympathise, Im sure. Student 1: Lets go for it folks! Ill get straight onto the union and others who can help. Lets drink to our new project, the teddy bears picnic. Student 2: No, to Sherwood Forest. Get out your Lincoln green!

Girl student: And we can add in the forest of Arden with the help of the English society. Paul, Ill have a cider please.

Related Interests