Crafting a New Credo

David Galef recounts the U of All People's imperfect attempt to update its institutional principles after 50 years of gathering dust.


April 11, 2008

In the wake of a massive cheating scandal at U of All People (which involved cheating not just on tests and papers but also with the dean’s wife), a special task force has been set up to study the situation.

Another committee has been formed to study the findings of the task force, and a third group has been charged with putting together a new university credo.

Since the old creed was developed back in the '60s and involved, among other matters, a promise not to drop acid during exam week, everyone agrees that it’s time for some refinement and redefinition.

Below are some committee recommendations, unfortunately muddled by the superimposition of committee session minutes taken via new voice recognition software, and what can only be called off-the-cuff comments.




Draft of the committee’s report
note: this is only a draft, damn it, okay?
it’s almost five o’clock, and I’ve got to get my kid to the orthodontist
Sure, but next time it’s your turn to take the minutes. Let me turn this thing on.
Wait, it already is on.

U of All People is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence --
to the pursuit of high aims
to many pursuits

representing a community of scholars--
what about someone like Professor Jernigan in Sociology?
group of professionals

all engaged in the sacred task--
important obligation
big job

a group dedicated not just to teaching individuals--
leading the young
makes us sound like NAMBLA
blind leading the blind

pedagogy in a spirit of open inquiry--
remember what happened when Waddell went up for tenure?

we forgot to nurture character -- I mean, add that
not what I do in college algebra
well, by setting an example

mention diversity: it’s key
why should we mention what we don’t have?
all the more reason

an open environment--
you mean we never got that zoning restriction we asked for

As a member of this university--
How about “inmate”? That’s good.
using the term “member” always makes me think of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas

look, can we just get to the list of items for the creed?
Make that “credo.” “Creed” sounds like it has to do with snake-handling. Or an Indian tribe.
You mean Native American. It’s a tasteless remark, and just like--
strike it from the record

“I believe in human dignity....”
these students don’t believe in anything
that’s what we’re trying to fix
you don’t fix a situation like this by--
wait, why do we need “human”? This isn’t an animal rights issue.
Look, I told you not to--
strike that, too

I subscribe to a doctrine--
Sounds like getting a monthly magazine. Let’s go back to “I believe”
What about “I pledge”? Reads like a sorority.
Have the lawyer check that out. Might be actionable.

I believe in fair play and--
not downloading all those MP3’s
you’ll never get them to agree to that

I believe in the integrity of each individual--
what the hell does that mean?
does it matter?

What about academic honesty?
let’s just give them a list of sites from which it’s acceptable to plagiarize

I want “academic freedom” in there somewhere
for them or us?

the provost wanted something about wise husbanding of our resources
that’s why she’s the provost and not in the English department
Sounds Biblical. Could lead to trouble.

here’s a list of drugs not to be taken during exams. Adderall, Ritalin
Hell, that represents half the student body. And most of the little shits have doctors’ notes
strike that

“I will police myself and others....”
You mean make them rat out other students?
not gonna happen, except as payback
I prefer “realist”

Okay, here’s what we’ve got so far:
“We, the faculty, in order to form a more perfect U of All People....”
Ha ha, no, really
Really? Really, we don’t have much here.

Look, I’ve got to go, I told you. Why don’t we just steal another school’s credo and adapt it a bit?
The exquisite irony of that shouldn’t escape you.
You’re from the English department, aren’t you?


Shortly after these committee recommendations were released, a new committee was formed by the chancellor himself with the express purpose of creating an enduring credo in one meeting. Here’s the final version, after a little vetting:



David Galef is a professor of English in transition from the University of Mississippi to Montclair State University. His latest book is A Man of Ideas and Other Stories.


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top