The Laurie Taylor column

April 5, 2002

The vice-chancellor will see you now, Professor Lapping.

Thank you.

Ah, there you are. Grab a pew. Now, look here, Copping. I understand you recently attended a lunch given by the Poppleton Rotary Club.

A very pleasant town-and-gown opportunity .

Quite so. Now, during the course of that lunch I believe you had a conversation with Mr George Muttock, the sole proprietor of Poppleton Pork Products, during which the subject was raised of Mr Muttock's 17-year-old son, Clint.

There was a brief exchange.

And in the course of that exchange, Mr Muttock apparently expressed the view that his son's relative stupidity was inhibiting his academic prospects and that he was therefore exploring less formal ways of securing him a university place. These included the possibility of a donation from Poppleton Pork Products to the university's fighting fund.

The connection was rather more loosely phrased.

My source tells me that at this point, you said: "Look here, Muttock, we're both men of the world. If you could see your way clear to putting £3,000 into the fighting fund, I think we might find ourselves looking favourably upon an application from Clint to read media studies."

Some such figure was mentioned.

Dipping, I want to be quite frank. That conversation was entirely out of order. This university has always prided itself on its high standards of integrity. And there is every sign here that you have significantly lowered such standards. In fact, you've not just lowered them. You have halved them.

Halved?

That's right. Your offer to Mr Muttock was a good £3,000 lower than the one made earlier in the year by our psychology department. Dipping, let me ask you a very blunt question.

Vice-chancellor?

Have you no sense of shame?

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