Dean's Dramolette

Image: Francesco Ungaro
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By THIRD ROUND*

A college tragicomedy in one act

single scene

Office of the Dean of Universitas Futuri, the highest-ranked public institution of higher education in the tropics. At the back of the room, a wall covered with portraits of former deans. In the middle, standing, the dean and his deputy, next to a large solid wood table, with legs in the shape of Manueline columns.

DEAN. For me, the maxim is valid: “instead of the fish, the fishing rod”. The Humanities Institute lives in another world, or, if you prefer, in another era. A faculty fearful of rolling up its sleeves, thinking that public coffers have to subsidize everything in life: salary, library books, renovation of building facilities, student housing, etc. etc. Some even want medical and dental care. All, of course, provided by the university tits.

VICE-RECTOR. Yeah, Valfrido, bad people to talk to. It's a class that thinks they're very knowledgeable because they know Aristotle and list Vasco da Gama's sea routes by heart and skipped. However, aside from the superb …

DEAN. … and the fanatical trade unionism, does not understand anything of what is happening out there, of what the concrete world is – more than concrete! – of the market and its laws.

VICE-RECTOR. Exactly, but speaking of these rebels, the governor didn't like the leak of the opinion at all. As you know, he was paid by the National Federation of Investment Banks under the promise of absolute secrecy. Careful, highly professional work, with clear and precise indications on the direction we should take. It is so detailed that it even provides instructions on how to deal with the disgruntled.

DEAN. I loved the section that deals with what they call the “torquemada tourniquet”, the proposal of insidious strangulation, of the slow and gradual decrease of our dependence on public funding, that jabuticaba tree that disconnects us from industry, agribusiness, banks and startups.

VICE-RECTOR. A genius idea! The document also gives all the tips on how to attract those who can be recruited, clearly and didactically showing the most effective way to convince them to compete with each other for funds. Good old-fashioned musical chairs will wake them up from their fantasies.

DEAN. I liked that part, but I suspect the immediate extinction of public tenders for hiring personnel. This doesn't happen overnight, and the creation of a talent-hunting committee is more complicated at the university than our vain advice suggests.

VICE-RECTOR. You're right, it's an election year, by the way, and the governor was adamant: he doesn't want to hear about political unrest in our backyard. beyond the damn leak, we had that nasty incident at the helicopter show, right in the heart of the campus. Were it not for the confusion that took place, we would not be called temple vendors, not least because we do not sell anything; what we've done is just hand over our extensive and underutilized lawns to those who can make good use of them.

DEAN. What an unfortunate coincidence! The reporter had to be there just as the students appeared with their posters and the police with their clubs! Do you know a more explosive mixture than students, police and press together, together, sharing the same space? A pregnant student with an open fracture and her boyfriend with ten stitches in his head!

VICE-RECTOR. And an aircraft with a painted door. It was really embarrassing. I learned later that the troop commander received a well-deserved scolding from his superior. Beating these bastards, with the TV cameras on! My God, these officers don't get media training?

DEAN. Yeah... but let's think about the future; my mandate expires in two months, and I already took my nomination for the position for granted – you know which one, I don't call him by name, it's bad luck. Knock your clenched fist three times on the table top. Now, faced with the negative news, I don't feel so safe.

VICE-RECTOR. Stop being silly, you have genuine admirers in the state executive. His reputation as an austere and resilient administrator goes beyond the boundaries of the academic universe. Remember your own deeds! In the first year of his administration, the university got rid of six student cafeterias, five technical schools, two hospitals, three pharmaceutical laboratories and two thirds of the apartments destined for the so-called needy students. You are the great precursor of the elimination process of what does not correspond to the core activities of a modern university. Next week, you open the Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Creative Innovation that will leave the obsolete School of Management sucking its thumb. Think of your legacy, Valfrido, think of your valuable legacy!

DEAN. His words cheer me up, my dear, I didn't remember so well what I did. Even so… take a deep breath and looks the vice-chancellor in the eye: tell me frankly, what could compromise my nomination more: the leak or the beating?

* Round Round Professor of German Literature at USP.

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