Building the Spartan Wall

EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University officials today announced that they were placing the campus on “lockdown”, and never allowing the faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and select undergraduates to leave the campus again. In a statement released from the office of University President Lou Anna K. Simon, the University said that “We had recently taken the principled position that our faculty were under no circumstances allowed to use modern information sharing tools and collaborate online with their peers and the public. We felt that this position wasn’t strong enough. Our world class faculty and students carry important and critical University Intellectual Property and business records in their minds, and we just can’t let them get out and risk them sharing that property and exposing those records. We attempted pilot projects where each faculty member was given a stack of permission forms for each person they encountered to sign. That pilot was not successful. So we had to take the next logical step.”

“Not successful is an understatement”, said J. Allen Farnsworth, a tenured Classical Biological Anthropology professor, “I got a bloody black eye when I asked the lady at the lawn and garden shop to sign this form after I gave my lecture about the history of all art that includes references to caterpillar segments. The University told me that I had to do this any and each time I shared their Intellectual Property.”

Pressed for more information about such an unprecedented move, a spokesperson for Simon said that “we realize this may cause some consternation. But our IT department created this thing they call a ‘wallfire’ for our computers, and we really liked that wall idea. We absolutely must protect our Intellectual Property, and our Business Records. Especially all those emails from the facilities department about why my request to the move the light switch closer to my desk hasn’t yet been completed. However, we feel that our faculty and students will be well cared for and comfortable here. We have the finest in Spartan accommodations.”

“Spartan is right.”, agreed Professor Farnsworth, “all they gave us was a cheap plastic air mattress, a toothbrush, and some toilet paper. And it’s not even two-ply.”

Asked for additional comment, a spokesperson for David Gift, Vice Provost for Libraries, Computing, and Technology told us that “David couldn’t be more pleased. He’s taken a lot of criticism for being such a classicist on this issue. Forcing everyone to use our crappy custom developed webmail client really has been hard. He’s been having administrative meetings and lunches, and golf outings every day, to try to get the budget increased now that we told everyone they can’t use better products. And that’s hard, you know? If we don’t get more budget, we may never be able to back up our mail server ever again. By locking up all our faculty and students, which of course was the next logical step, it takes some of the pressure of me, er, him. And with Jack [Valenti, late head of the MPAA] gone, it’s been hard to find a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. I’m really doing everything I can for our fine University! I’m trying to protect our Intellectual Property! Oh, excuse me, I have to meet with some RIAA representative to install their monitoring software on our ResNet”

Asked why the Administration wasn’t covered by this policy, a spokesperson for Chris Hanna, Interim Assistant Vice President for Human Resources responded simply “well, we do keep some business records, but we’ve been assured that we are neither intellectual, or have any brains.”

A joint Engineering/Natural Sciences research initiative that would allow the faculty and students to dump the University contents from their brains each night showed some early promise, but some of the key neurological research needed to implement the filters properly, so that the faculty and students didn’t forget the names of their pets and partners was only available from Stanford. And with the new IT policies, MSU wasn’t able to share in that information for risk of exposing their own Intellectual Property.

So, for now, MSU faculty and students stay locked in their offices inventing new Pong games while waiting for the mail servers to be rebooted. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

Thanks to Kevin Gamble for information contributing to this report