Several members of university staff who arrived for work this Monday morning were shocked to discover that their usual reserved car parking spaces had been occupied by a small flock of Blackface sheep.
Other staff members were similarly alarmed to find that the covered way leading to their offices had been blocked by a medium-sized herd of Dairy Shorthorn cows.
But perhaps the most disconcerting discovery was made by Professor Gordon Lapping of our Department of Media and Cultural Studies, who found himself unable to deliver his customary 9.15am lecture, “Answer as soon as your name is called: heterosexual normativity in University Challenge”, because the lectern was already occupied by three Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs.
At first, it was generally assumed that these various animals had somehow strayed on to campus from the neighbouring stretch of barren land (formerly the University Science Park). However, a quite different account was provided later in the day in a “Send all” email from Jamie Targett, our thrusting Director of Corporate Affairs.
Targett explained that the decision to introduce scores of animals on to our campus had been prompted by the news that Harper Adams, the specialist agricultural university, had attained the number one position in this year’s Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. “One could only assume”, wrote Targett, “that such a relatively unknown university had triumphed over all other universities because it makes a point of allowing students to enjoy regular interaction with a wide range of animals.”
It had been this recognition, said Targett, that had also prompted what he described as “some modest animal-oriented shifts of emphasis in core curricula”. So, from October, the Criminology course would be required to broaden its curriculum by including lectures on Cattle Rustling, Dognapping, and the cultural stigmatisation of Bestiality.
In similar vein, our Theology Department would be asked to pay rather more attention than at present to the dualistic composition of Noah’s Ark, the tendency of locusts to become a plague, and the unfortunate behavioural characteristics of Gadarene swine.
English would be excused from any such changes because of its existing options on Moby-Dick, Wolf Hall and Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, but Philosophy would be asked to increase its emphasis on the relationship between hares and tortoises and the epistemological significance of the Popperian black swan.
Targett admitted that he expected “some resistance” to the idea that seminar space should be allocated to storks in the Reproductive Biology course, but was happy to report that Poppleton’s money-making Business Studies Department had already “bought into the idea” that its courses should include extended coverage of Bull Markets, Tiger Economies and the art of Fleecing.
He had, however, no current plans to increase the animal element in university administration as he believed that management had already displayed just such a predilection with its well-documented subscription to snake oil, weasel words, red herrings and kangaroo courts.