This article is a contribution to The Gazelle's satire column.
Dark circles under her eyes, Vice Chancellor Marinate Pemmican entered her first Zoom call of the day exhausted from her panicked all-nighter. Set to release in a few short hours, the latest community-wide email still had one disastrous flaw: clarity.
“I don’t know where we went wrong,” said Pemmican. “All contributors usually have no issue providing imprecise diplomatic language that ultimately communicates very little about tangible policy outcomes. But this?! Students will interpret it perfectly on the first read!”
In a desperate attempt to rectify the mistake, Pemmican began burning the midnight oil. Adding in obligatory messages about “resiliency” and replacing every third noun and adjective with “community,” she frantically molded the message into the corporate template that every institution follows despite its universal loathing.
“They say being abstract is not the same as being vague,” explained Pemmican when asked to describe her approach to the revision process. “But when it comes to communicating critical information with enormous tangible consequences — is it really too much to ask for both?”
In recent months, numerous students have voiced their frustration with this ethos.
“The sculpture(?) outside D1 is easier to make sense of than these!” complained Senior Ti-el Deeyar. “Can I at least get some bullet points? Quarantine already has me trapped by the four walls of my bedroom. A wall of text is the last thing I need.”
“All I want are straight answers,” said Junior Lo Gocal. “If you don’t know something yet, why can’t you just tell us you don’t know it? There’s no need to act like you’ve figured everything out when you’re clearly making things up on the fly. That’s what capstones are for.”
When asked for comment, Pemmican offered a candid response:
“If we only told students the things we knew for sure, we wouldn’t be able to tell you anything. If we purged the obligatory pleasantries and copy-pasted Student Portal info, all you’d have left is a blank email with ¯_(ツ)_/¯ as the subject line.”
Indeed, while constrained by institutional lingo, the inherent uncertainty of university policy may itself be to blame. If so, then Pemmican’s clarity crisis is surely an anomaly. While the internal investigation has yet to conclude, many suspect the deviously forthright culprit to be Dr. Acai Vanilla or Dean Kale Parsley.
Though many students appreciate the risks of sharing details that can’t be confirmed and will likely become obsolete, Junior Asink Ronus still thinks caution is the wrong call.
“So you’re concerned about oversharing? The worst case scenario is that we feel so overwhelmed with tentative information that most of us just stop reading your messages altogether while those who do reinterpret minor details, subtly misconstrue reality, and spread that misinformation through the student body such that by final rollout, every student feels betrayed by broken promises never actually made. But that already happens anyways, so I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Despite the recent slip-up, Pemmican and the wider NYU Abu Dhabi administration appear to be sticking with more tried and (kinda-sorta-not-really) true communication strategies. Imperfect as they may be, they remain the only feasible way to obscure the fact that nobody on earth — not even the administration of NYUAD — has any idea what they are doing right now.
As such, Zoom-fatigued students the world over are bracing themselves for another long semester of messages more perplexing than their professors’ handwritten feedback. Clarity may not be forthcoming, but students will take what they can get.
“I know it might not seem like it, but our trust can actually go pretty far,” explained Junior Sho Dontel. “The less energy we spend interpreting obfuscated public relations jargon, the more we’ll spend appreciating the monumental challenges you diligently work to overcome.”
Ian Hoyt is a columnist. Email him at email@example.com.