Inside the mega-gym complex, there is a podium. The space is decorated with the blue and orange colors of Monmouth University.
SKYLAR, a mixed-race valedictorian, steps up to the podium to flaunt her tassels, and is quickly handed a note.
Hello, class of 2021. What you have done is truly incredible. You have earned a college degree, and all those sitting among us are now qualified to the workforce, or doomed to work freelance for the rest of our lives.
Small applause as we cut to the graduating class in a small arrangement of chairs.
I came here to Monmouth for the value. And I surely don't mean monetary value: my loan value was so large that Discover Bank has to get government clearance to give a citizen that much money. But I knew this place was for me: it is prestigious, and the diploma you get says more than just graduating from college. It displays this University name; with it's alumni and reputation of rigor. It says to
employers: I invested in myself,
and I'm ready for you to invest in
The students clap and cheer in response.
and now, for the president's statement.
SKYLAR reaches for the note she was passed while walking to
the podium.
Since becoming our president, he has cut the admission percentages in half, only allowing the most qualified income brackets to attend our classes. He won a New Jersey innovation award for raising tuition by more than double, and making life more comfortable and valuable for all of the students who commute back home after Thursday classes. Today, he would like to announce that Monmouth will be furthermore tuition free under the Biden Administration!
Rapturous applause occurs from around the room as President Halle, a bearded man in a tailored suit, approaches the podium. After a moment, the GRADUATING CLASS gives stifled applause. They are all still in shock.
Thank you Skylar, we love hearing you speak, and how diverse you make our admissions pamphlets. This class has done something miraculous: to graduate from this institution is the highest honor. Even more so, this class is opening the doors for so many new students who will be attending Monmouth tuition free starting next semester. The good-fortune that this class will mark is the end of financial worries and loans, and eliminate all struggles of going into the workforce in debt.
A HAND goes up in one of the front rows. A student in a
graduation robe and hat that doesn't cover his curly hair,
ROB, stands up.
There's a question? Yes sir?
This free-tuition thing: it starts now?
As soon as you walk out those doors, yes!
Why was it not...
this year?
President Halle remains composed as the graduating class nods their heads in solidarity.
I'm happy you asked that Robert, because you are all part of what made this happen. Late last year, the campus begun construction work on an on-campus Spencer's, which was allocated in our budget. When we drilled the foundation for the Spencer's franchise, we discovered crude oil in droves, right at the edge of campus.
A second student, RUBY has fishnet stocking under her graduation gown and box-dyed hair.
You found crude oil on campus using our tuition money to add a sex-toy shop on the college campus?
Thank you for asking that they/them. After days of consideration, we decided that with such a surplus of funds from tuition revenue, building a Spencer's Adult Toy shop was the most logical option for the student body.
I took out loans with my Robinhood Credit Card and my parents refinanced the vacation home just so you could build a Spencer's over oil mines? I can't believe this.
I wouldn't word it that way! We allocated tuition revenue for a student-experience center that happened to be a Spencer's sex-toy-shop.
I bought nipple clamps at that place!
RUBY sits down in a huff, and the girl next to her, JESSE, stands.
We should be entitled to those returns too! Aren't we stakeholders in this college?
I guess this is an open forum now, but no. You signed away the right to do that freshman year. Don't you remember the pamphlet we put Skylar on.
PRESIDENT HALLE pulls out a PAMPHLET with a close-up picture of SKYLAR'S face among a sea of white students.
Upon seeing this, SKYLAR comes back to the podium.
You built a sex-toy shop without our knowledge, benefited from us, and are ushering us off to live with crippling debt while the future of this school doesn't pay a dime?
Never! We will be reimbursing your graduation fee! Use that fifty dollars toward your future!
Think of it as donating your tuition funds so privileged children can attend this University.
RUBY stands back up in defiance.
Underprivileged? I had to take a loan out to buy a house so I could get another loan and use that house as collateral.
JESSE stands backs up too.
I had to sell pictures of my feet to Indonesia for the past five years in exchange for Doge-coin to pay off my loan interest!
ROB also takes a stand.
I had to operate a toll both on the highway.
I've always known our students to be problem-solvers! Congratulations, and don't forget to make a donation to the Alumni House before leaving!
SKYLAR grabs back the microphone as PRESIDENT HALLE buttons his jacket to leave the podium.
Guys, let's settle down. Maybe it isn't the worst thing: to be pampered while in college. This place was our last chance to be kids before adulthood, so who cares if the campus police used Drone Surveillance or if the dorms have only Sleep-number beds! Didn't we get enough value out of college for the money we spent?
JESSE, RUBY and ROB all pause to have a moment of reflection, and then the rest of the class aggressively STANDS.
You think if we all pooled our money to buy some C4 that we could blow the oil reserves on campus?
I don't mind. I heard prisons have the same food supplier as our school. Plus we can write off our loans for another ten years if we're incarcerated!
Let's go. Everyone whose in can meet us in the campus Hibachi restaurant next to the Ralph Lauren outlets.

Roman V. Smith © 2020​​​​​​​
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