Friendly fire: campus coup | The Triangle

Friendly fire: campus coup

In light of recent events, Liz Magill and Claudine Gay’s “alleged ousting — or as they call them, “resignations” from their presidential roles at the University of Pennsylvania (Magill) and Harvard University (Gay) — it’s become apparent that aside from crypto and coding, knowing how to impeach a university president is an increasingly vital skill. After all, you never know when this information will come in handy. Though this seems comedic now, this article will prove its credibility when either party inevitably sues me for “slander,” “defamation” or any other grandiose yet ambiguous charge that has fairly little consequence: much like the actual role of any university president.

Before you spend any more time reading this article, I advise you to rethink attempting a coup. Never mind, my editor said I can’t say that. 

Attempt Two: attempting a “top-down restructuring of an educational institution” is not advised if you do not maintain the following prerequisites. These include but are not limited to: university faculty status – preferably a Ph.D. (or at the very least working in upper administration), general credibility amongst colleagues, reasonable cause (real or manufactured) and about one year to a decade of plotting. 

Typically overthrowing a university figurehead – sorry, “president” – involves (1) establishing cause. As listed under “prerequisites” you must have a reasonable cause for undermining your university administration. Though evidence does not have to be truthful, one must be able to prove it as though it is credible. This ties into (2) rallying the Troops. Once you have collected enough evidence you must sway your colleagues (preferably in upper administration) to your side. This portion is essentially workplace gossip designed to warrant mistrust of the president. Once you have sufficiently spilled the tea to the faculty, you must gauge how much support you have. This next step is what will make or break a coup. (3) At least two-thirds (this varies by the university) of the faculty senate must declare “no confidence” in the university president. Then the events will go as follows: the media will take wind of this story, your friends on the board of trustees will be talking, and then these same trustees will inevitably ask for the president’s resignation. 

But honestly, all these steps feel like a lot of work so I will propose some easier ways to get rid of a university president. The easiest and most sane way to oust a president would be to do what they used to do to United States presidents back in the day – beware of convertibles if you catch my drift. If you’re an engineer might I suggest Elon Musking them into the sun? Though based on the fact Millennium Hall is sinking I would not suggest anyone here attempt this. Of course, I have saved the best for last, though this might land me on a watch list but hear me out: You could kidnap their firstborn child – [My editor said I can’t say this]. Hopefully, this helps inform your forthcoming plans as an agent of change, educational reformist, or future top-down–restructurer.

With peace and love,

Your Favorite Future Coup Leader 😉