It is autumn, the season of foliage and football. The president of the university sits at his desk staring despondently at a stack of unanswered mail. He has had no time to enjoy the foliage. But he has had plenty of football: a good season so far, only two weeks to go till the big game, and that looks like a safe bet. The president has witnessed this progress from the 50-yard line each Saturday, returning to his fireside with the nostalgic aroma of crushed turf and bonfires in his nostrils and the echoes of triumphant cheering and music in his ears. A pleasing prospect, surely. Yet on top of his mail lies the following letter:
In your last Alumni Day address you said: "The foundation of this, indeed of all similar institutions of higher learning, is the devotion and support of its alumni." I have just been assigned two seats in Section X for the———game. I would like to know how you square these two propositions. Personally I consider these seats an insult. Until I have a satisfactory explanation from you I intend to withhold my contribution to the alumni fund.
Very truly yours,
P.S. Please don't fob this off on the secretary of the university or the athletic director. I'm sick of their mush.
Copies to class secretary, alumni secretary, alumni magazine, etc.
The president reflects. He considers the athletic office's problem of allocating seats to 60,000 people, half of whom want to sit in one section and the other half in the one opposite, and his mind conjures up an inverted pyramid of humanity with the apex resting upon his own head. He scribbles on the margin of the letter, "Miss Jones—I guess I'll have to answer this," and turns to the next item, a memorandum!
From: Dean, College of Liberal Arts
To: The President of the University
Subject: Eligibility of George W. B———
The Committee on Eligibility finds that George B———has been receiving financial assistance from nonuniversity sources which he has not made known to this committee. Such assistance seems clearly to have been given to B———by members of the University Alumni Association in his own city. Since this violates the university's rule and the interuniversity agreement, he has been declared ineligible. The committee suggests you communicate these facts to the aforementioned alumni association and that you take steps to restrain it from further activities of this sort.
The president experiences a slight increase in pulse rate. He is soothed by the familiar signature on the next letter, but not for long:
I was wondering if you knew how fed up the alumni around here are at the way George———was declared ineligible. In case you didn't I thought I ought to tell you. Just yesterday at the club, Sam was sounding off about it. You know Sam, but then. He seemed to be getting pretty general support. Said B———was the best all-state halfback he'd seen in 20 years, a fine boy and a leader, and if the university was getting too good for boys like him he was through. He said some other things, mostly shorter. The main point was the support he was getting. I thought you ought to know about that.
Take it easy, Joe.
Your friend and classmate,
The president looks at his watch. Only 15 minutes before his appointment with the dean of the medical school, then a long session with the faculty committee on liberal education. Two large folders relating to these appointments are still in his briefcase. Yet the mail must be answered, and the next item in the mail is a letter from Professor A:
Dear Mr. President:
I have just been reading the treasurer's report, which shows (on page 12) an athletic deficit of $600,000. I am shocked, as I am sure my colleagues will be. How can we possibly justify such an expenditure of university funds as this will require in the face of your frequent yet unfulfilled promises to raise faculty salaries? The time has come, Mr. President, for this university to recognize the true purpose for which it exists.