By Preston Long
LOS ANGELES, CA — As her student body buckled under the weight of layoffs, tuition increases, and structural inequality, University of Southern California President Carol Folt announced in a letter to the community that she will be replacing all financial aid packages with bags of magic beans.
“Even as we plan our return to campus, we know that we cannot return to the way things were,” wrote Folt, explaining that her plans to honor her inaugural promise of increasing financial aid changed when a wizened, cloak-wearing donor offered her a crop that was worth its weight in gold. “I’ve had difficult conversations with students, many of whom confided in me that continuing their education would take nothing short of a miracle. What better way to honor their stories than to give them the opportunity to grow their own miracle?”
Folt hopes that this new system will streamline the financial aid process. “We’re living in stressful times, and the last thing I want to do is make anyone’s life more stressful. Students will no longer have to submit countless documents or wade through convoluted webpages. All they’ll have to do is plant the beans we send them, wait for them to grow into a beanstalk, climb that beanstalk until clouds curl underfoot, sneak into the sleeping giant’s great hall, disguise their smell with soot from its hearth, time their movements with its thunderous snores, grab as many singing harps as they can carry, avoid hands the size of houses as they swipe at their ankles, and spend the rest of the year knowing that they’ll have to do the same thing the next year and that their treasures could be reclaimed at any time by a giant, greedy entity that doesn’t care if debt squashes them flat. It couldn’t be simpler.”
“Of course, students are always free to pay for their tuition out-of-pocket, and we are happy to accept any donations their parents may make. Magic fertilizer isn’t free, after all.”
“Whether you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or you have to steal one from the table of a slumbering giant, know that the Trojan community will always support you. However, even though our community suffers together, it doesn’t suffer equally. As you know, USC is a national leader in putting low-income students first. In that spirit, I ask that our low-income students be the first to throw themselves at any hungry giants they encounter, so that their classmates may have a better chance to claim their golden goose. As always, I am in awe of the strength and selflessness that defines our community.”
As more and more students reached out to demand budget transparency, President Folt responded by locking herself in Mudd Hall tower, promising to listen to anyone who climbed it using her short, sensible bob.