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October 15, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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A Private Protest

The Council meeting had been a disaster. Despite all the security, the larrikins of We Are the University had leapt to their feet as the fee increase had been announced, cried out, and flung a fusillade of fetid fruits at the unprepared council members. Chaos descended as Campus Security restrained the protesters and the Councillors beat a hasty exit, their expensive suits besmirched with the blood red juices of the tossed tomatoes.
Sigh. There was nothing that could be done now. The rats of Salient would feast on the corpse of this story. Yet, at least the fee increase issue could be put to bed for another year. All that could be done now was an attempt, perhaps futile, to save his suit. He headed to the bathrooms.
The suit was in a terrible state, but he still managed to make some progress at dabbing off the worst of it. Those goddam louts: if they put half as much effort into passing their Media Studies papers as they put into…
He froze. The bathroom door had opened and there, standing behind him, just beyond the threshold to the bathroom, was the ring leader himself.
“Professor…”
“You…”
They both started, and then trailed off, an awkward tension building between them. Someone had to break the silence.
“You don’t have to act like children, you know. It doesn’t help your cause.”
The protester’s face twisted in disgust. “If it’s the only way to make you listen, then we have to do it. Your University is fucking the life out of its student population and you don’t seem to care!”
This fury pushed the Professor back, but also stoked the fire that burnt within him.
“Care? Of course I care! Do you have any idea how expensive a University is to run? Do you have any idea how much sleep I lose worrying about how I’ll keep courses open, staff hired and students happy? Do you have any idea how many tears I’ve shed with every cut back, every redundancy? You say that You Are The University, but do you feel its pain, feel the crushing pressure of Government neglect? You might be the university, but I am the one who has to keep it alive!”
As his voice had risen, and his anger had spilled forth, he had found himself stepping closer and closer to the protestor. Now their bodies were inches apart. He could feel the warmth from his adversary’s body. He could smell his unwashed body. He could look into his eyes, those bright, brown eyes…
The moment stretched onward, and no one moved. The protester looked shattered, his lips quivering in confusion, his eyes wavering as he processed this unexpected outburst.
“Professor, I had no idea. All this time, I had thought you a monster, but now I see you really care. I… I…” He trailed off, trembling as he began to dab at the stains on the Professor’s torso. The touch was delicate, almost intimate, and their eye
contact was unbroken.
“Stop that…”.The Professor grabbed the Protester’s wrist, feeling the warmth, the pulse of this young man’s vitality.
Those brown eyes.
Those quivering lips.
It was if by magic that they both knew what had to be done. The distance was crossed, and their lips locked. Forbidden love on the battlefield. For one moment at least, they both were the University.

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