Triffids constitute a woefully underrepresented minority in college undergraduate enrollments and are not represented at all in graduate programs such as Screen Studies and Whiteness Studies, research has shown. In order to address this crisis, which has been exacerbated by the dictatorial intransigence of the Trump administration, Upstate Consolation University has fully committed itself to the inclusion of Triffids under the criteria of its Alternative Holistic Recruitment Program. That program makes eligible for admission to UCU members of historically excluded intersectional groups who might not qualify to attend college when judged solely by their high school grade-point-averages or their SAT scores. According to Lardner Amitol de Brainepanne, UCU’s newly appointed Interim Quasi Vice Dean for Inclusive Diversification: “It’s all about the transformative experience of diversity, equity, and transgression – that and moving forward. If you’re not moving forward, you’re not really moving at all, as least not in the way that we here at UCU want you to move.” In a press briefing, de Brainepanne revealed that UCU had begun Triffid recruitment in marshy and fetid regions of the state last year, with special effort being made to bring to campus those Triffids who identify as trans- or cis-gendered or who can document their refugee or DREAMER status. Asked to describe the practicalities of Triffid recruitment, de Brainepanne said that UCU’s recruitment officers had been aided by Special Forces of the State National Guard who have trained to operate in swampy and flooded terrain. “Casualties have been surprisingly light,” de Brainepanne added.
The Triffid – a highly mobile, predatory, carnivorous plant that grows up to fifteen feet in height and can weigh as much as an adult brown bear – is believed to have come to earth in spore-form on fragments of a comet that exploded in the high stratosphere over Norway in the late 1950s. In the summer of 1960 in London, several hundred Triffids under cultivation in a large warehouse for the valuable oil that they exude from an organ that in other vegetable species would be the cotyledon escaped during a power outage. Before the police were able to round them up and destroy them, the Triffids, over a period of several days, killed and ate some twenty-seven people and an unknown but large number of household pets. Although scientists have been studying Triffids for five decades and more, many aspects of the life and behavior of this anomalous species remain occluded. For instance, are Triffids intelligent? They possess no discernible nervous system or brain. Nevertheless, their method of attacking their preferred human prey – slashing the eyes and blinding it before seizing, killing, and eating it – suggests a type of intelligence. And they are attracted by loud noises. Are Triffids sexed? This too remains outside the ken of science. Triffids breed through propagation of their spores. In their gametophyte phase, the Triffid prothallus, stimulated by warm wet weather, can release millions of spores. Over the years, Triffids have faced discrimination and xenophobia, becoming a marginalized group.
Responding to questions, de Brainepanne reminded his audience that “there are multiple kinds of intelligence” and that the inability to speak, read, and write cannot be automatically equated with ignorance or bestiality. “We are forming a dedicated team of tutors to bring our Triffid freshmen up to speed,” de Brainepanne said. The Interim Quasi Vice Dean added that several Triffids had been admitted on athletic scholarship in the Track and Field Program of the Sports Studies Department. “Triffids can move forward really fast; they are naturally progressive, which is one of the reasons we believe they will swiftly integrate into and enrich the student population.” No special arrangements are planned to accommodate UCU’s Triffid freshmen. In de Brainepanne’s words, “They will be housed with the general student population in the dormitories.” De Brainepanne added, “Some are here already, about twenty of them, who are participating in summer freshman resident orientation – our version of Head Start.” Also speaking at the briefing was outgoing Temporary Demi-Provost for Diversified Inclusiveness Vespella Splatt-Gardner. In casual remarks, Splatt-Gardner said that the lack of a central nervous system and brain might well make Triffids the ideal postmodern, intersectional students. “They are particularly adept at absorbing the principles of critical thinking and cross-cultural awareness, and they absorb them quite directly,” Splatt-Gardner averred.
In other UCU news, Campus Health and Safety officers say that they are moving forward in their investigation of the disappearance of a group of community college transfer students, a dozen in all, who had come to live in the dormitories for a week while participating in summer freshman resident orientation. The mystery began when, on the third day of its visit, the group failed to report in the morning to its orientation leader. The day’s activities were to include a multicultural non-appropriative vegan breakfast in the Andrea Dworkin Memorial Parking Permit Office and Cafetorium, a mid-morning seminar in transgression led by Minky Winceapple of the Studies Studies Program, and a noontime tour of the new bookless library followed by a choral recitation of UCU’s Vision Statement under the statue of Ta-Nehisi Coates in the main quadrangle of the campus. The orientation leader told Health and Safety officers that he was not too concerned that the visitors missed the first half of the day’s activities. “There was a lot of loud partying in the dorm until two or three in the morning, so I can see how they might have wanted to stay in bed late, even considering how exciting the tour of the new bookless library can be,” the student employee was quoted as saying. Other groups checked in, however, including the Triffids, who are housed on the same floor as the missing group. An attempt to interview the Triffids proved futile, but a number of students from the floor below and the floor above said that the loud festivities had ended abruptly at two forty-five in the morning.
A search of the empty dormitory rooms revealed few clues. Organic fluids on the carpets and walls were dismissed by investigators as being “not all that unusual for a state college dormitory.” Lester Spitzmuller, Chief of Health and Safety, speculated that, it having been a night of warm wet weather the missing parties might have walked west along the lake shore to spend the night on the public beach under the cliffs. As that beach lies outside the jurisdiction of Health and Safety, Spitzmuller has instigated no reconnaissance. Clothing items of the vanished group were found on the premises. Spitzmuller adds to his speculation that, “maybe they went skinny dipping.” Interim Quasi Vice Dean de Brainepanne has asserted that, “UCU will not allow this incident to go forward unnoticed although during the semester most students are missing most of the time.” Learning that tracking skills belong to the time-honored native tradition of Triffid culture, Spitzmuller and de Brainepanne announced that they will personally be taking a group of Triffid volunteers into the labyrinth of steam tunnels that run underneath the main buildings of UCU campus in case the absconded about-to-be freshmen retired there to participate in some kind of diverse initiation ceremony. Spitzmuller and de Brainepanne’s goal, in de Brainepanne’s words, “is to provide a proactive, thoughtful and participatory approach to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our college community.” UCU President Large Mahogany Desk has announced that, “We will begin by coming together to share our perspectives and experiences, and we will work together to implement best practices using our and others’ expertise.”