EVERY MORNING construction workers awaken North House residents by banging wood planks against each other in an effort to spread sawdust all over the halls and stairwells to weed out students suspected of being susceptible to asthma.
"We have no need for the weak and helpless in the Quad. Only the strong must survive!" said one important official who asked not to be blamed for anything bad, adding, in an apparent lapse of short term memory, "We have no need for the weak and helpless in the Quad. Only the strong must survive!"
Because construction workers have graciously agreed to bang metal and scream profanity at increased volume levels every nine minutes in the early morning, lucky North House students no longer have to worry about faulty snooze butttons. Still, the other planned improvements are so stunningly behind schedule and over-budget, that I decided to ask a few officials some questions. They were hesitant to discuss the matter.
"DON'T COME whining to me, you young whippersnapper," snapped the chairman of the Harvard Committee to Delay Renovations Indefinitely. "Give them acceptable living conditions now and pretty soon they'll be clamoring for diamonds and emeralds. Soon second helpings on steak night! Free replacement ID cards! Revolution! Anarchy!"
As I deftly dodged her murderous lunge, she plunged head-first hundreds of feet down into the cavernous pit that residents once knew as the Quad Courtyard. And as she fell, arms flailing madly by her sides, I couldn't help but feel a pang of sorrow--after all, it would be many weeks before the construction men would return from their coffee break and find her.
Meanwhile, the Harvard Committee In Charge of These Kinds Of Silly Decisions voted unanimously to offer $20 million to the first company that could figure out a way to cover Memorial Hall with scaffolding. After many plans were considered, the contract was finally offered to a brilliant architect and former pauper best known for his most recent triumph--enclosing the John Harvard Statue with wooden planks.
When the budget for all these projects was officially determined, however, the Committee members realized that they had miscalculated. They had forgotten about the petty fines that they levy on students for every little transgression. They had forgotten about the added income from raising the price of library copy machines from five cents to 10. They forgot about the irksome two-dollar "processing" charge that every student must pay if they want a copy of their transcript. As the final tally of extra money began to take shape, a solemn hush fell over the Trustees. What could they spend it on? Suggestions began to fly.
"HOW ABOUT paying men to drink beer and tear up the Quad?"
"How about buying a lot of big rocks and putting them in front of the Science Center. It would be real expensive!"
"How about an elaborate 350th birthday celebration where we will spend thousands of dollars for a lifesize marionette of John Harvard and a large rainbow that will span the width of the Charles River?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
There was a brief pause as many members scratched their chins and crinkled their brows in an attempt to stimulate thought.
"How about using the largest endowment of any university in the world to lower the student tuition to levels that in good conscience can be called 'uncriminal'."
During the silence that followed one of the committee members was permanently blinded as his eyes bulged so far from his sockets that they propelled at great velocity across the room and out an open window. The silence lasted until finally someone's bottom jaw hit the floor with a thud, and a thunderous laughter broke out in the meeting room.
The committe adjourned for the day in a good mood, except for the recently-blinded member who was still in a state of aggravation. Wiping away tears of laughter from their eyes--or sockets, as the case may be--they left to take turns guarding the copy machines. They had to make sure that no mischievous students were wasting valuable fluid by making too many copies in "dark" mode.
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