"How about a peek into ITU's hierarchy and faculty?"
Why is it that the farther away from the University I travel, the closer I seem to be linked to it?
Very well. I will do my best to illuminate the nature of my lodgings.
The exact hierarchy and composition of the echelons of the Ivory Tower University are an impenetrably convoluted mystery, even (and sometimes especially) to its own members and higher-ups. At the time of the school's consecration during the life of Grand Scholar Laizij, the bureaucracy was already a broad and robust machine with many lateral offices divided between a considerable number of tiers of authority. In concept it mirrored the specialized and staggered structure of the whole of the city of Deneroth, embodying the perfect form and function of Laizij's greatest creation.
In practice, it introduced bloat and chaos into the mix forevermore.
I use "chaos" in its literal, mythological sense of undifferentiated formlessness, rather than in its sense of randomness, anarchy, and/or man-made lawlessness. The red tape and regulations in place, however arbitrary they may have been in origin under Laizij, are dutifully followed by all members of staff and faculty centuries later, especially in regards to the procedure used to determine where exactly one falls in the hierarchy relative to another individual. You might ask "why would one's position in the hierarchy be in question at any given point?" And that would be a perfectly valid question for which you would be fired, demoted even lower (and then tasked with finding your new ranking), or banished to the libraries
in exile on "probation".
You would not be removed before you got the full answer, however. The faculty is quite proud of it.
Here at the University, every position held has a numerical value attached to it. These numbers range from 76 at the lowest, to 0 at the highest. You read that correctly- seniority increases as the number decreases, with various thresholds limiting or enabling an individual's privileges. The first guidelines for the scale were put in place by Laizij himself, and while the number range has remained unchanged in the centuries since, the means of navigating it have ballooned into a textbook's worth of formulae and rules for irregularities and exceptions. Because raw number overrides position within the spine, it is very possible for someone of quite low standing to achieve a very high rank through a combination of judicious school politicking, dumb luck, and bureaucratic blunder.
For example, a freshman student with zero involvement in any clubs or extracurricular activities possesses a 76, which entitles them to room and board, lavatory access, and basic utility and facility usage across campus within the weekly minimum curfew hours. A 5th-year senior who is head of their dormitory's division of the sporting club however, might have a number closer to 52. This would potentially place them above the ranking of their own nontenured professors starting at 55, assuming the student was still enrolled in entry-level classes of course. But if one such professor possessed the title of Committee Head, which is worth a score minimum of 40, then those scores would be averaged together to a respectable 47.5, which would enable them to shut down just about any student attempting to call a referendum on their course materials.
There are ten tiers of importance making up the "spine" of the University, if you will. Various departments confined to each hence radiate outward like "ribs". The topmost rank is made up of the deans of each supra-department, the composition of which is a constantly changing thing, as well as the head senior administrator. These individuals, alongside the biggest contributors to the funding of the University (including at least one representative of the family of the Stewards of Deneroth) make up a Board of the Directorate which modifies all member's rankings to a flat 0, or alters their average, depending on whether or not the Board has been in session in the past eleven days. The Directorate is the single highest decision-making body in the University, and each member enjoys approximately the same weight of importance, involvement, and irritability. Each semester, a vote is conducted by the Directorate to determine who besides the investors has earned the floating title of Inheritor of the Grand Scholar, which among other things possesses a rank of -1. Therefore, the highest seniority number achievable is -0.5 for a period of about sixteen weeks.
The next three tiers are the proper bureaucrats and administrators of the University, who oversee the valuing of titles and positions, the tenuring of professors according to those values, the allocation of funds not decided upon by the Directorate, the regulation of all clubs and committees and their rules, and other matters. Tier three is the level to which my infamous colleague Senior Editor Adelbramp belongs, as both the Provost of the Board for Historical Ordination and Associate Vice-Dean of Affairs for ITU Publishing. He currently sits at a lofty 12, but the latest rumor is that the venerable Chairman Lomeus Bielo of the Treasury is contemplating retirement¹, and acquiring the right position or title left behind in that vacuum would allow Adelbramp to ascend to 8, the threshold for becoming an audience member to the Directorate's meetings.
The next four tiers include the actual professors, instructors, teachers, and graduate students in the University's employ. This vast army of educators is at times even more severe and cutthroat than the realm of bureaucrats, which goes a way toward explaining how hidebound some individuals within these tiers may become- their very livelihood often depends on whether or not the theories they built their careers on remain unchallenged or not for the rest of the year. I am often derisive and hard on many of these men and women (and the occasional squirrel in a waistcoat), but I do not envy the razorwire on which they must balance while also battling for the respect of their walleyed students. Diverse fields dealing with every conceivable consideration or recreation of the sciences, as well as the study of humanity and its many arts, can be found espoused within the classrooms of this at times vexing, other times delightful mess of scholars.
The last tier is composed of the thousands-strong student body itself, but as many introspective pieces produced by students and alumni alike will suggest, a whole separate and intricate web of hierarchies and social dealings is imbricated within, hidden just beneath the surface. At the risk of being over-reductive, I will observe that most of these hierarchies derive from some permutation of clique, academic performance,
gang club membership, and family status/background. The seemingly placid, anemic masses of nebbish university-goers is far more vigorous than one might expect.
"But Mr. Litte," you might ask once more, wonder and amazement still etched upon your face, "where is the tenth tier? You've only described nine of them."
Well, my observant reader, you are correct.
Officially there are ten tiers, but the proper tenth receives something of a False City treatment in day-to-day life. The lowest tier is occupied by any and all members of staff deemed to be menial in nature. This includes tenders to the campus grounds, physical laborers, janitorial and/or custodial staff (with the exception of the keepers of the Ivory Tower itself, who are in fact Tier Two administrators), and those who are employed from outside of the University proper work to in or manage various supply offices and commissaries, an exception to the general rule that "outsiders" are not permitted within the gates outside of designated hours. The lower level of Gatekeepers who perform the opening and closing rituals each day while being barred from University entry also occupy this tier, as do stationary adjuncts such as myself.²
All of this is a simplification of a system which must be articulated in several volumes rather than on a few sheets of parchment, of course. One or two nuggets of lore on the subject may have escaped my memory, but I hope I have still made an appreciable contribution to a topic which I have less than absolute fascination for.
¹ It was recently discovered that for the last decade, Bielo had been accidentally sending redeemable treasury checks to University business partners in triplicate, rather than sending records of the transaction down to the Office of Finances. Thus his "retirement" may in reality be mandated. Then again, someone probably should have started to ask questions four years before that, when he turned 89 years of age and began to become confused as to whether he worked at the ITU, or its cousin campus twice removed at Porylus Mons.
² Yes, this is why I am able to maintain the same approximate role and status within the campus despite being dematriculated and then unofficially expelled from the Humanoid Ecology program eight years ago. No, I will not go into this in any greater detail than I absolutely must.
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