A small group of new students were gathered outside, awaiting their first tour of the campus. A tiny, fluffy ewe marched to the front and gestured for their attention. “Welcome to the University,” she declared merrily. “I will be your guide for the morning. I should like to assure you that, no matter your class, creed or species, everyone should feel free and safe. But mostly safe. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask them at a later time, once they have been properly assessed for any problematic words or ideas.”
She trotted airily off, and the students all followed after her.
On his tour about the campus, Piggy passed many buildings, large and small, most with funny sounding names like CENTRE FOR CROSS-SPECIES ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING, or DEPARTMENT OF CORRECT POLITICAL THINKING. All were smart and well attended, but for one great dilapidated block which bore no name, and seemed shut up and empty. “That is the Academy of Sciences,” said the guide, “but no one much uses it anymore, so we are turning it to a different purpose.”
Across the way, a huge amorphous structure glimmered pink and gold in the early morning sunshine. FEELINGS ZONE, read the sign above its entrance. “And this,” said the guide, “is our newest complex. It is for the care and safety of everything important to us. Would you like to take a look inside?”
As he stepped inside the Feelings Zone, Piggy noticed that his trotters sunk into the soft flooring. Indeed, the whole complex seemed constructed of a firm but spongy substance, which gently wobbled and swayed with the trembling mass of animals strewn across its interior. All were engrossed in odd, tablet-shaped devices, each of which reeled a constant stream of images and bold, emotive slogans.
“What are they all doing?” inquired Piggy.
“They are experiencing the many forms of global suffering, vis their ‘ePads’,” replied the guide.
“E-Pads?” asked Piggy.
“Emotion Pads,” said the guide. “Most of our students arrive from privileged backgrounds, unacquainted with the real suffering of other, more excluded animals. The ePads encourage them to become more sensitive and caring.”
Then for a few jarring seconds, the entire building convulsed as if in rage. Piggy and his fellow students were thrown to the floor, as an earsplitting roar erupted through the space.
“It’s quite alright,” said the little ewe, pulling herself to her feet. “It was just a feelings storm, from the Echo Chamber upstairs.” At that, the ewe’s wristwatch sounded a sharp beeping alarm.
“Goodness,” she cried, “we’re almost late for the induction speech. Please follow me.”
Piggy noticed, high above them, an immensely long number ticking upwards at a hectic pace. The sign upon it read ‘Count of Unjustified Sufferings (Estimate)’. “How awful,” thought Piggy to himself, as he passed through the exit, and out towards the Student Union nearby.
Piggy Goes To University by Miriam Elia and Ezra Elia (Dung Beetle University Press).
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