Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian, Feb. 16, 2006.

It all began on November 11.

Homer Paulsan was upset. His advisee Jennifer B. was waiting in his office to go over her spring course schedule, and he couldn't locate her advising folder (or dossier, as it was called in the department). It was supposed to be in the filing cabinet in the department office. It wasn't there. Someone had taken it. Who?

He returned to his office to break the news to his advisee. “Jennifer,” he said grimly, “I have bad news for you. Your dossier is missing.”

Jennifer gulped. “Now what?” she said. “Do I have to start college all over again?”

Homer missed the joke. “No,” he said. “I don't think that's necessary. But let me check with the President just in case.”

“Have her fill out a petition,” said Shawn Malvern, sitting in his oval office. He pointed at the sign on his desk. “The Buck Stops Here,” it read.

Homer handed over a buck and returned to his office fuming. He didn't have the folder, and now he was out a dollar.

“Couldn't we look at my Grad Report on Ecweb?” suggested Jennifer, after a long silence.

Things proceeded quickly thereafter. They went over Jennifer's course history and finalized a schedule for the spring. As Jennifer left the room, Homer reassured her. “Don't worry,” he said, referring to the folder, “I'll track it down.”

And so began the search for JMD—Jennifer's Master Dossier. The Intelligence Bureau was pressed into service. IB director Jose Zaramini sent covert agents here and there, but to no avail. Terry Rip, director of forensic accounting, dusted for fingerprints, but failed to produce anything.

Gerald Fitzpatrick was appointed independent counsel to lead an investigation into the missing JMD. He started issuing subpoenas. A chill ran through Nicarry.

Malvern continued to link JMD to 11/11 in his speeches. “A day that will live in infamy!” he declared at a Veteran Alumni Day event in Pennsylvania . “And those who question us are aiding the enemy.”

Upon being asked by a reporter who the enemy was, Malvern refused to clarify. “It is not proper for me to discuss an ongoing investigation,” he said.

“Earlier you said that the person who stole Jennifer's dossier would be removed from your administration,” said the reporter. “If that turns out to be Vice President Homer, will you fire him?”

“I don't want to prejudge the outcome of the investigation,” Malvern replied. “But in the meantime I have asked all department faculty to attend an ethics refresher class.”

“Even Homer?”

“Especially Homer,” said the President, winking and nodding. The reporters laughed.

At a closed cabinet meeting, tempers flared. Homer openly accused the faculty of hiding JMD.

“Do you have any evidence to that effect?” asked J. Buff Daddy, professor emeritus.

Homer spluttered angrily. According to those who were present in the room, he started calling Buff Daddy names. Malvern quickly adjourned the meeting.

A few days later Fitzpatrick called a press conference to announce an important development.

“First,” he said, “let me explain the game of baseball.” This was directed to the faculty from the West Indies and India who often confuse baseball with cricket.

After an hour in which Fitzpatrick talked about strikes and balls and steroids, he got down to the business at hand. He said, “Following a thorough investigation, I have located the JMD.”

The reporters gasped. Located the JMD? Where was it? Who was the culprit?

Fitz continued. “Jennifer B's folder was found in the drawer for K. Apparently someone had removed it from the B drawer and placed it in the K drawer. Why this was done, we'll never know.”