CHARLOTTE, NC—After a long morning meeting, in which they furthered the recommended closing of three centers and raised tutition, UNC’s Board of Governors requested their chamber be closed to outside guests, pulled out bags of hallucinogenic drugs, and began a multi-hour Phish jam session.
“Stressful shit, everyone yelling about stuff—let’s all just chill,” said John C. Fennebresque, chairman of the BOG, as he listened to Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist for Phish, begin an opening solo. “Oh fuck, do y’all remember the Madison Square Garden show? I was tripping so hard during this solo. It’s all coming back. Holmes you brought acid right?”
James L. Holmes Jr., board member and chair of the working group tasked with reviewing university system centers, pulled out a sheet and grinned.
“Dude, nothing more I want to do than be in another reality right now. Why is everyone complaining?” Holmes laughed.
Just as a full on jam in Phish’s “Weekapaug Groove” was beginning, the lights in the room dropped and lasers erupted from a small portable emitter. They danced around the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s union conference room.
“Y’all act like I wasn’t ready to groove,” Steven B. Long, board member, said from the back of the room, standing beside the light switch and emitter. “You know it isn’t Phish without the lasers!”
Long, whom many have seen as the main opponent of “advocacy” by centers, began rolling his body to the rhythm.
“Took shrooms this morning and have been tripping straight balls ever since,” he said. “Some of y’all look like eels.”
The upper-class, almost exclusively white men of the BOG threw their heads back and forth, letting Phish wash away a morning of scathing complaints and tedious bureaucracy.
As the BOG continued vibing out, students, employees, and other active members of UNC-system communities huddled outside the meeting chamber, discussing the morning.
They went over possible responses to the BOG’s latest decisions in hushed, frustrated, and increasingly despondent tones.
As the protesters talked, board member Peter D. Hans emerged from the closed chamber, looking disoriented in the bright light of the hallway. In the moments before the door closed behind him, protestors turned their heads at the sound of the major Phish jam occurring just a few feet from them. Han’s met their eyes, fear and rage flashing across his otherwise slack visage. Just as quickly, he appeared overwhelmed with nausea, forgetting his feelings as he hurried down the hall to the restroom.
“I’m way too high for this shit,” Hans muttered, lurching into a stall. He was found a few hours later whispering, “Fucking bad trip, man.”
In the meantime, those congregated outside the room resumed their protest, chanting loudly at the chamber.
“It seems like we can’t make a difference, but at least we are out here trying. If we yell loud enough, they have to hear us,” said Emilio Vincente, a leader of student protestors. He began to say more, but a boom of bass from within the conference room interrupted him.
The Board of Governors had just begun playing the famous ’92 Palo Alto show.
“Can’t they all just chill?” Holmes said as he nodded his head, riding a vibe that would last for several more hours. “Can’t they all just seriously chill?”