The Tator

Chancellor Schmidt prepares for flooding, builds ark

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

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This article is satire and is not meant to be taken seriously. It does not reflect the views of The Spectator or UW-Eau Claire.

In a news release sent to all UW-Eau Claire students, Chancellor James C. Schmidt said he has set into motion plans to build an ark.

According to the release, the ark will serve to “provide students with an alternative means of transportation to and from classes” when snow-induced flooding hits Eau Claire.

“I didn’t cancel classes during any heavy snowstorm or county-wide states of emergency,” Schmidt said, “so I definitely have no intention of canceling classes for a little water.”

The ark, estimated to reach about 300 feet long, is intended to launch for its maiden voyage next month. Included on the ark will be some bails of hay for sitting, grain feed and barf bags. The exterior of the vessel will include large spinning rudders for cutting through any submerged buildings the ark might get caught on.

While the ark is available for all students to use, Schmidt said he wants students to consider all options of possible transportation.

“If you typically walk to class, that means you’re probably close enough to swim when the flooding happens,” Schmidt said. “If you typically bike, then consider kayaking or tubing. But whichever form of transportation you pick, be sure to add an hour or two to your usual commute time. Try your best to avoid being late.”

The ark, already dubbed “The Blue Boat,” will cost the university a hefty $1.3 million to build. This price encompasses the cost of wood, tools and “the speediest, back-breaking labor money can buy,” Schmidt said.

As a result of the record-breaking amount of snowfall Eau Claire has received this year, experts are expecting flooding of “rapturous” proportions. City officials are urging Eau Claire residents to take special precautions in anticipation of the flood.

“Buy sandbags, dig trenches or just move,” said Jim Mickelson, chief of Eau Claire’s newly-established Anti-Flooding Task Force. “Do whatever you have to do. Just try not to get your hopes up.”

According to the news release, all students need to ride the Blue Boat is their Blugold ID. Students will not be allowed admittance without it. Alice Schwimmer, a third-year social work student, said she understands the need for an ark, but still views the plan as “a little extreme.”

“I mean, I guess I get it,” Schwimmer said. “I just think it would be easier and cheaper to cancel classes altogether, but I know the university can’t make up missed days like grade schools do.”

Schwimmer said she looks forward to seeing the finished ark, as Schmidt appears to be putting a lot of hard work into it.

“Last I saw (Schmidt), he was sprinting across campus with an armful of wooden planks,” Schwimmer said. “He was wearing strappy sandals and a brown burlap tunic. I heard him mumbling to himself as he plowed through groups of students to get to the build site. That’s dedication.”

Schmidt said the completed ark will only have a maximum capacity of about a little over a thousand people. He said the ark’s primary goal for each day will be to have at least two passengers from every major, just in case “we need to repopulate the campus.”

“It should be enough room, I think,” Schmidt said. “About 90 percent of our students live on or within swimming distance of campus. They probably won’t need to take the ark.”

According to the news release, in the upcoming month, the university would like to urge all students to travel to classes while wearing one of those backpacks that turns into a safety raft when you pull the cord.

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected].