Fraternite, liberte, security

3rd March 2000 at 00:00
Anna Hughes writes the unofficial minutes of her governing body.

An invasion by travellers cuts short our board meeting. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends!" declares Rex, the principal, as he and his team mobilise security and contact the police, who are extremely cautious.

The college's solicitor applies for an eviction order, but advises that it will take a minimum of a week. Frustration and chaos result in the surrounding streets.

Professor Fergus McGregor's thoughts on security are, as ever, too late. Nevertheless, contractors are summoned to quote for fencing and gates. "May I see your pass please?" becomes the most frequently asked question on campus. A siege mentality grips thestudent body. The effect on academic life is worrying.

The legal process is plodding slowly on. Then Jason Parks, student union activist, governor and avid supporter of body piercing, decides to take matters into his own hands. "We can't pursue an open college policy with all these travellers," he says.

So, 30 students with blunt instruments approach the invaders, demanding their departure - a move we governors, naturally, cannot sanction. However, the students reckon without the travellers' dogs. The resultant stand-off is hastily defused and disbanded by the police.

To everyone's surprise, the travellers are gone the next morning. Throughout the night, Jason's student commandos have nleashed the noisiest and nastiest of fireworks - saved from their cancelled millennium bash - among the travellers' vans.

"We can't possibly condone such reckless and dangerous behaviour," declares Silas, our meticulous financial director.

Our reconvened board meeting begins with an on-site inspection of the new security arrangements. It is a bitterly cold evening, well lit by the new security lights.

"Try a wee drop of this," invites Fergus, passing round a flask of 20-year-old Linkwood single malt. It is gratefully received. The cost of the security is considerable and Silas has wrung his hands, not to mention his computer, in allocating contingency funds. Rex, however, assures us that all is not lost.

"A film company approached me with a request to use some of our buildings - they're impressed with our security. Their extremely expensive equipment is always being filched when they film on public propertyI It's an offer we can't refuse."

"How much?" asks Silas.

"pound;300,000 has been mentioned. With your blessing, ladies and gentlemen, let me get more details to discuss next time."

"Carried with one vote to the contrary," declares Alan, the chair, with no attempt at a show of hands.

"What's next?" asks Mary, the teacher governor.

"New government proposals to widen student participation and combat social exclusion," says Rex, "but that will hold."

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