Black Smoke Signals Yet Another Day with No New SIPA Dean

The conclave has been deliberating for 390 consecutive days, but the telltale waft of white smoke is nowhere to be found.


Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 12.36.02 AMBy Jay Pinho

Today, a thick puff of black smoke wafted slowly from the pipes atop the International Affairs Building, signaling yet another day without a new SIPA dean. The deanal conclave, composed of equal parts faculty, students, and confused Catholic seminarians, has convened daily for the past 390 days and has yet to reach an agreement on the successor to interim Dean Robert Lieberman. For over a year, a large group of people numbering in the high single digits has been eagerly awaiting a cloud of white smoke to emerge above the 15th-floor facade.

Human rights groups expressed increasing concern about conditions in the conclave. Some have taken to calling the room the ConCave, as the group is essentially living in the genuinely creepy, graffiti-filled hallway connecting the 118th Street entrance to the higher floors of IAB.

“Goddamn, are we ever sick of this place,” complained one member of the conclave, who said he was still holding out hope to elect Lil Jon as the new dean. “They feed us the same bread and Nutella every day, and that’s it. I need to get my life back.”

Asked another, “And what the hell is up with that scrawled message ‘Treasure what you have while you have it, but don’t fear change?’ I’ve been staring at that handwriting on the wall for well over a year now, and I still have no fucking clue what it means.”

Privately, some members of the conclave — which originally numbered 21, but has since added two more after a pair of twin sisters were conceived and delivered during the deliberations — are worried that it may be years before they settle on a new dean. “I just don’t know,” sighed one of the Catholics, who still didn’t seem to comprehend what was going on. “You’d think choosing a new dean wouldn’t be that hard. But every time I suggest Cardinal Timothy Dolan, people look at me weirdly. I’m beginning to think we’ll never get out of here.”

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Jay is a dual-degree master's candidate in international affairs at L'Institut D'√Čtudes Politiques (Sciences Po) and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He blogs at The First Casualty and tweets as @jaypinho.

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