I wrote this more than twenty-five years ago.

I have forgotten why I came to this appalling place. It could not have been the campus. Lacking the tradition or the finances of older universities, it makes do with rude clusters of buildings huddling together on an obscene amount of open space, occasionally grasping at the sky, but more often squatting obstinately like the Arts Library. The sole redeeming feature of the whole sorry mess is the Environmental Studies II building, but I cannot say whether I am pleased that the architects finally decided to display their vulgarity openly instead of cloaking it in tired functionality, or upset that I have to pass the eyesore every time I take the transit bus to the Village stop. At least it provides a convenient scapegoat for the students who need to blame their own miserable fortunes on something else.

It certainly could not be the social atmosphere. The few good people have no doubt been weeded out by whatever screening process is used to select Village residents. I have no idea how I escaped elimination, though it is beginning to look like several hours a day on that poor excuse of a transit system would have been a small price to pay to avoid living with such morons. My roommate is a good example. Coming through his room on the way to watch the sunrise one morning, he looked in such sorry shape that I took pity on him and invited him along. When he mumbled disinclination, I tried to inspire him by singing an aria from Rigoletto. This brought only several ungrateful racial remarks (fortunately, directed at a race of which I am not a member) and a threat to force-feed me my own shoes. It was just as well. Sunrises are wasted on such as he.

The rest of my fellow freshmen (who insist on being addressed by the degenerate appellation "frosh") are little better. When they are not pouring grain alcohol down their throats, they are discussing methods of seducing the giggling, gum-chewing creatures who inhabit the floor above (though I must admit that the thought of two such empty-headed collections of people in vigourous and mutual copulation would provide a certain degree of amusement were it not for the horrifying throught of the mongoloid children who would almost certainly be produced from such unions).

Perhaps part of the blame should go to an Orientation purposely designed to keep them as disoriented as possible, but I doubt it. For my part, I have managed to avoid their repeated calls to middle of the night rallies of destructive behaviour by sleeping on a couch in the Campus Centre. Once the last load of revellers have staggered out of the Bombshelter, the only distraction comes from the occasional janitor attempting to buff-wax my feet to the floor. The turnkeys come by every so often to wake me up, but these gentle, meek souls are usually in so deep a drug-induced stupor that it is difficult to say who is waking whom.

No, it must have been the rumours of academic excellence, though I realize now that they were probably started by alumni desperately trying to create a reputation where none existed before, and given credence by chartered accountants, life insurance salesmen, and the like. My first class was an eye-opener. A short, shabby, bespectacled man climbed onto the main platform. Neither he nor the class acknowledged each other's presence, and when he started to rub off the blackboard, I assumed he was a member of the janitorial staff. He turned out to be the professor, as I discovered when he started chalking unintelligible symbols on the blackboard while mumbling into it. At first, I thought that the poor fellow had a speech impediment, but I soon realized that he was attempting a poor imitation of a Central European accent. This was no doubt affected to cover up the fact that the majority of his salary goes to support a colony of relatives in some godforsaken place like Botswanaland. Even sitting in the very front row, as is my wont, I could make out at most one word in four. The class did not take very well to my repeated requests for clearer enunciation, preferring to pass notes and gossip, and finally I stopped listening and started rereading my copy of Finnegan's Wake for the third time that week. I shall have to get more books soon, or my brain will atrophy.

The one good thing arising from this experience is that I can tell my parents, who with their usual lack of faith expressed doubt in my ability to cope, that there is absolutely no way I will wash out of this place academically. I will be writing this column as often as my schoolwork permits, which, if present trends are any indication, should be every week. My main purpose is to improve this paper, and judging from the content of the issue that was mailed to me, I cannot see how this will fail to occur. So, until next time, I remain,

E. Siastes

(References: Ignatius J. Reilly, Charles Kinbote.)

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