What would we do without them? After debriefing weapons inspector Hans Blix and tipping Jon Gruden on the Raider’s susceptibility against the run, foiling an attempted breach of USF’s unique campus-wide Sami-exclusion zone was all in a day’s work for USF’s legendary administrators.
Naturally, most media attention focused on USF’s successful expose of the latest Taoist plot to affect campus. According to USF media relations coordinator Michelle Carlyon, the intuitiveness of the University Police had uncovered 20,000 anonymous tip-offs located in yellow bins around campus detailing Sami Al-Arian’s audacious plan to attend his own grievance hearing at the Marshall Center Friday.
Carlyon, who had carefully affixed a Band-Aid to cover the word “not” on her yellow and green “I do not speak for USF” badge, said that it had been a close run due to an innocent confusion, and not, as is widely believed, a confusion about who was innocent.
“It didn’t occur to the administration that (Al-Arian) would wish to attend his own grievance hearing,” Carlyon said at a press briefing, unaware that the assembled press corps were staring in disbelief at the redundant “do” on her badge.
With little pause for thought, campus administrators hatched an emergency plan to relocate the grievance hearing as far from campus as possible. In spite of extremely short notice, USF administrators were able to triumphantly announce Thursday that a deal to host the hearing had been brokered with the Embassy Suites on Fowler — a full 100 yards from campus. The new location offered numerous benefits for the university.
“We’ve protected the integrity of our campus, and I can get back before Einstein Bagels closes,” an unnamed USF administrator said.
The Sami-exclusion zone was first implemented in September 2001 when FOX News’ rabid news hound Bill O’Reilly accused the USF computer science professor of having Taoist leanings and of having associated with other known Taoists. The USF administration responded quickly to the perceived esoteric threat, implementing the Sami-exclusion zone and decreeing that Al-Arian’s preceding adjective be upgraded from “tenured” to “controversial” with immediate effect.
Keen, and not wanting to be left out of the meleÃ©, Student Government received USF President Judy Genshaft at a senate meeting in January 2002. In a packed meeting, believed to contain more students than actually voted in the last SG elections, the Senate wisely delayed its hasty and ill-advised vote supporting a Sami-free campus until they had heard both sides of Genshaft’s case.
But supporters of Al-Arian, led by walking sound bite Roy Weatherford, fought back, smuggling several people called “Sammy” onto campus as part of their campaign of phonetic disobedience and plaguing the campus with a punishing schedule of Taoist gatherings thinly disguised as lectures on academic freedom.
Morale on campus throughout the long saga has, not surprisingly, suffered. Saddest of all has been the sight of aspiring MTV spring breakers, cruelly targeted by television news crews, stammering “Sami who?” into the camera –reality TV at its worst.
As for Al-Arian, the naturally shy professor has shunned all media contact and somehow eked out a living on his full USF salary. It is believed he has spent the long months of his exile fine-tuning his lecture “Splitting the hair: ‘legitimate targets’ and ‘collateral damage.'”
With no decision on the legality of the Sami-exclusion zone in sight, Genshaft spoke to quell fears among faculty that the administration will succumb to the threat of censure by the American Association of University Professors and regain their senses.
“It is my dream for this institution that our students can progress from freshmen to graduating seniors without ever encountering a Sami on campus,” Genshaft said.
Chris O’Donnell is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.