The public information office at Northern Illinois University used April Fool’s Day to inject some levity into the serious business of the budget crisis. The office release a list of “proposed budget cuts” April 1; the Chicago Tribune carried the story on the front page of its DuPage County section. Among the April Fool’s recommendations were to send faculty to academic conferences but provide no return tickets; lease ROTC cadets to friendly armies; offer law students course credit for watching “Divorce Court”; close the counseling center and refer students to Dear Abby; replace intercollegiate football with intramural cribbage; limit journalism majors to stories based on facts; and replace campus computers with battery-run abacuses.Had we known then that the next quarter-century, despite two major periods of macroeconomic expansion, would be nothing but recisions, budget crises, and retrenchments, we might not have been so jocular.
We're currently looking at no recruitment, no travel, and possibly no replacements of life-expired computers. Counseling has expanded in the past quarter-century: their influence is so great now that the university may be imposing what it calls a "syllabus policy." The term "syllabus" is incorrect for what we properly view as a course outline. The policy proposes so much legalese as part of the document that it's more accurate to borrow a term from railroading and distribute Conditions of Carriage on the first day. In the intervening years, the football team went to the Orange Bowl as well as went undefeated against Alabama.