Satire: Fletcher Hopkins, third grader, creates university’s COVID-19 dashboard

University administration encouraged Hopkins to create the COVID-19 dashboard using a sheet of wide-ruled paper and a crayon, of which they would then take a photo with a 2013 Samsung Galaxy. Hopkins, however, insisted that he at least use Google Sheets.

tara lennon fletcher hopkins satire. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s COVID dashboard.

fletcher hopkins. The University of Delaware’s COVID dashboard, designed by third grader Fletcher Hopkins.

BY
Senior Reporter

Fletcher Hopkins, third grader at Downes Elementary School, recently assumed the position of director of the university’s new, literally life-or-death online resource, the COVID-19 dashboard.

University administration encouraged Hopkins to create the COVID-19 dashboard using a sheet of wide-ruled paper and a crayon, of which they would then take a photo with a 2013 Samsung Galaxy. Hopkins, however, insisted that he at least use Google Sheets. Administration was reluctant at first to the idea of using such a complex data visualization tool, but once Hopkins agreed to make the bars in the graph blue and gold, they relented.

Hopkins had a few ideas to increase public accountability with the dashboard, including the outlandish idea to show the total number of cases in the community. “They were confused about what I meant by that,” Hopkins says, so he never ended up adding that feature.

The university has a number of students that have literally paid thousands of dollars to learn how to visually represent data. However, administration claims in a public statement, “Fletcher, with his recent completion of second grade, seemed to be the best choice for this hiring decision.”

The hiring freeze was lifted specifically to hire Hopkins. Three classes, taught by adjunct faculty, were cancelled to pay Fletcher’s salary.

Hopkins’s work is still yet to be finished. The administration has other ideas in the works that will aid the process of misrepresenting the COVID-19 data to the maximum possible degree. Ideas currently in the works include truncating the y-axis and cherry picking the data.

Furthermore, they’re thinking about making the graphs 3-D to show off how quickly Fletcher is learning Google Sheets (good boy!).

After being shown the complex COVID-19 dashboards of other colleges and universities, the administration replied with, “Well, they still screwed the whole college thing up with all those fancy numbers and graphs, now didn’t they? Smart-ass.”

Maybe they have a point there, but for concerned students, this dashboard still raises doubt.

“If you’re a normal person, everytime you go outside you check the weather, so you know if there’s a pleasant breeze or a hail storm,” sophomore Marlene Andrews says. “But this shit, it’s like if you went to the weather app, and all you got was a screen that said ‘seven more degrees than yesterday.’ What?!?”

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