The other day I was reading a book in my living room when my roommate Ben announced that he had transcended the barrier of time.
"I was bored last week, so I built a time machine out of my Geo Metro, some electrical wires and the nacho cheese sauce from Two Pesos," said Ben matter-of-factly. "I saw it on 'MacGyver' once. McFly...I mean, Jon, would you like to be the first one to try it out?"
I agreed and planned to use the time machine to go back and correct all the grammatical errors in my well-meaning, but hastily-produced column, from last week. But something went terribly awry when I drove the Geo Metro at 17 miles per hour down University Boulevard while yelling, "With this mystical nacho cheese, I will cross the timestream as I please." I ended up 20 years in the future.
After finding the closest parking space to campus, I walked from Nogales to the Main Gate. I went to the newspaper racks outside the Main Gate and picked up a copy of the school newspaper Ä Lo Que Pasa. Across the top of the newspaper was the headline "UA administration does good stuff, really good stuff." Before I could wonder what happened to the Wildcat, my friend Greg walked by.
"Greg," I shouted. "It's me, Jon. I traveled into the future in a Geo Metro fueled by nacho cheese sauce."
Greg stared at me and said, "O.K., I'll play along with the shoddy premise of your column so you can make fun of the administration."
"Good," I said. "Now what are you still doing here?"
"The Great R.S.V.P. Crash of '96 did me in," he sighed. "With R.S.V.P. down, the administration had to hire more administrators to administrate administrative stuff. Plus they keep on cutting whatever major I pick."
As we were walking in front of the Student Union, I noticed man-size holes in the middle of the Mall. I peered down one of the holes and saw several pairs of yellow eyes staring back at me.
I exclaimed, "What the....
"Oh, those beings are the Freshmen and Sophomores," Greg said. "Since they built the Core Curriculum Building under the Mall, that's where they reside. Back in the days, administrators rushed along the Core Curriculum proposal. Corners were cut. Input wasn't solicited. Anyway, the class sizes were huge. So huge that students weren't learning and the faculty lost control. Now instead of educating the students, we just put'em underground for two years. C'mon, I need to get to my history class."
"Where's your class? Who's still teaching around here?" I rattled off questions.
"My class is in McKale," said Greg. "And it's taught by one of the five teachers left at the UA."
"Huh?" I asked. "There's only five teachers left at the UA?"
"Actually I suspect there is only one, but he wears different wigs and disguises in different classes," said Greg. "See, back in the late '90s, in order to make up for the costs of the new campus put out in the middle of nowhere, teachers were let go. Whoever criticized the administration was called up to the Provost's office for a chat. Pretty soon, the faculty pool became a faculty puddle."
We walked into McKale Center and took a couple seats amid the hundreds of other students. A man walked into the center of the McKale basketball floor. He was wearing Groucho Marx glasses and a fake nose.
"Today's lecture is on history," he said. "I'll have to make it quick, because in 30 minutes, the top-rated Arizona Wildcats will be playing! Bear down, Wildcats!"
The history class started chanting "Bear down!" and doing the wave.
The professor held his hands up in the air.
"Calm down. Remember, we are here for academics first," he yelled as his Groucho Marx glasses and nose began to slide down his face. "In history, sometimes people fight. Sometimes they love. But generally people watch too much television, vow they'll never drink again whenever they wake up with a hangover and think that those 'Coed Naked Sport' t-shirts are the height of wit. In conclusion, history repeats itself, so rather than bother studying it, you'll eventually live it. Bear down!"
People started getting out of their seats.
"Do you have tickets to the game?" I asked Greg.
Greg looked at me like I was from another planet. "Of course not. Students haven't had tickets for years. The Athletics Department would lose money if students had tickets and rich alums like Punk-Boy didn't."
The future was more horrific than I could have imagined. Well, actually not. Fortunately, there was no ASUA because the ASUA offices had floated away after years of collecting hot air. Anyway, I hopped back into the Geo and set the time machine to go 50 years in the future. I hoped that the far future was better.
After I made the timehop, I got of the Metro and found myself in a barren wasteland. Rubble was everywhere. There was not a building in sight, but looming before me was the statue that was once in front of the Student Union. I never knew its name but I used to call it "E.T. riding an unicycle while playing basketball." Something terrible had happened.
"Yes, the UA is no longer," said a voice from behind me. "The bureaucracy reached critical mass 25 years ago and imploded. Now all that is left is us, unsold copies of that Police Beat book and Lute Olson's hair. Go back and warn them what is to come if things continue as they do in your time."
I turned around to see who was talking to me.
It was a giant red squirrel.
Jon Burstein is a journalism and political science senior. He enjoys hiding in the recycling trash bins in the Student Union and occasionally popping out and saying,"keep'em separated!"
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