From the belly of the administrative beast: It’s getting worse

Managing Mosaic Editor Danny Zang's housing assignment in the humble abode of university president Dennis Assanis grows ever more stressful.

Roommates with Dennis Assanis 2
Justin O’Toole/THE REVIEW
Life’s hard when you’re a college student in a pandemic. But living in Dennis Assanis’ home at the same time? You gotta be kiddig me!

Managing Mosaic Editor

For the uninitiated, this piece provides an update to the events detailed here.

Like many, my election week was spent endlessly checking Twitter and other sources of election coverage while simultaneously trying to keep on top of another round of midterms and a seemingly infinite number of assignments.

Unlike many, I also had to contend with the non-stop pacing around the house of none other than university president Dennis Assanis, whose special University of Delaware™ branded Crocs™ clunking across the hardwood floors often reminded one of a small goblin mercilessly hammering a rock into a nearby wall.

Dennis couldn’t sleep much, insisting on staying up late to watch reruns of “Dog With a Blog” for some weird sense of comfort. He says that even though he is a human and Stan, the titular dog who blogs, is a dog – he feels they are kindred spirits because of the way they’re both underestimated.

Election aside, he’s been on edge. Disputes with faculty and campus staff over firings and pay cuts are doing the bulk of it. He caught me watching “Harlan County, USA,” an unabashedly pro-union documentary about coal miner strikes in Kentucky, and spiked the TV remote in the 24 inches by 32 inches framed picture of the two of us and YouDee he has on the living room wall.

He’s been busying himself with preparations for Spring. As he worked on one of his email updates (turns out he does write them himself!) I could hear the playlist he had on to cheer himself up. Katy Perry’s “Fight Song,” Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” and the “Moana” soundtrack’s “How Far I’ll Go” were replayed at least eight times.

One night over dinner he asked me what I thought the university should do for spring.

I gulped, eyeing him nervously. Would what I say become university policy? Could he be so starved for ideas and desperate for cash flow that he’d take the opinion of me, a lowly yet charming and fun-to-be-around student, and make it law? It felt like hours passed in the span of seconds as we sat in silence.

He laughed. “Kidding! We’re just doing whatever, I don’t know hahaha.”

Oh, thank God.

“Hey, do you want ice cream?” he asked. I nodded.

Not ten minutes later we were standing in line at UDairy, waiting in a line about ten people deep for some ice cream.

The group of three ahead of us wore jackets that made it clear they were maintenance workers. The vibe was… uncomfortable. Dennis tried to break the ice by saying “this pandemic is crazy, huh?” Didn’t work. We made it to the front of the line and placed our orders. The scooper and cashier worked in tandem. As they completed our order (Dennis ordered a single scoop of vanilla??) the cashier remarked to the scooper how tired she was. The scooper replied, clearly joking, “Maybe we oughta unionize too!”

Oh, no.

Dennis went stiff. He took the ice cream and receipt. Without breaking eye contact with the cashier he took a large bite out of the single scoop of vanilla ice cream, a bite that took out about half the scoop. He shuddered, making a show of swallowing powerfully as the cold rattled his teeth.

We left UDairy.

Upon our return to the house, he was still shaken. “You okay, bud?” I asked. No response. I made him wash his hands before he retreated to his bedroom.

For the next few hours, that’s where he stayed.

I had been sitting on the couch doing homework when he finally returned, practically vibrating out of his Crocs™ with a gleeful smile on his face. I sat and stared for about a minute until he finally burst and said “I have news.”

“I’m going to unionize myself,” he said.

I was confused. “You’re the only president of the university,” I said, “How could you possibly expect to operate a union of one that has nothing to bargain for?”

His smile disappeared. “Uh, well first of all, dummy, I only need my permission to unionize my job, and I have lots I could bargain for, like people being nicer to me.”

I had no other arguments, so I just told him it sounded cool and that I hope he has fun. He asked if I wanted to help him present his union idea to the Board of Trustees (no) and stay on campus at the Assanis house for Thanksgiving (also no).

At the time of writing this, I am safely at home, dreading my return to campus and the inevitable fallout of Dennis’ decision to unionize. Will the National Labor Relations Board investigate? Will the Board of Trustees suddenly break my bedroom door down, demanding I draw up plans for the Ultra eSports Stadium 3.0™ as recompense?

I have no way of knowing what awaits me. Perhaps, our home, the space we’ve shared for three months now, is no longer a home but a barren tomb of desperation and fear, haunted by the steady patter of cheap Crocs™ shuffling across the floors. Man, holiday season really has me in my feelings, huh.


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