UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN — An incident that occurred during routine road construction near the Education Building last week uncovered clues that could confirm many separate, long-standing suspicions of the student body.
On the evening of Sept. 15, a U of S Protective Services patrol vehicle stopped on the corner of Campus Drive and Education Road and fell through the pavement into an intricate and previously unknown tunnel system.
Traffic along Campus Drive was entirely blocked for the remainder of the day, with many abandoning their idling cars to flee to Louis’ Pub — contributing to an unexpected but substantial turnout for a student group’s karaoke event, which was also hosted at the venue that night.
The mysterious tunnels have sparked an interesting conversation about a long-standing debate. Rumours of these extraneous underground networks — tunnels beyond those accessible to the public — have circulated during coffee breaks across campus since as early as 1940.
This discovery is a breakthrough for researchers in the Department of Anthropology, who have been working to date and catalogue the crude etchings of symbols, hobo scratch and various folklore in bathroom stalls on upper floors of the Murray Library since January 2015.
Following the first investigations of the tunnel system discovered last week, the Department of Anthropology has confirmed that a number of maps found in the excavation — first thought to be nonsense scratched under lines of poetry — exactly depict sections of the underground routes.
These investigations — though by no means extensive due to structural concerns — have also revealed what experts believe to be evidence of generations of inhabitants, and speculation remains as to whether these inhabitants are human or beast.
Conjecture on the origins of this clearly developed underground society is presently a hot topic on campus. Some camps argue that the tunnel kingdom was dug by a mysterious Finnish sibling duo on exchange, who prophesied the extreme winter blizzard that rocked Saskatchewan in 1947. Others believe the affectionately named “mole people” emerged as biological phenomenon that occurred in response to residual radiation from the particle acceleration laboratory.
In the past, the Sheaf has even tried our hand at explaining the strange goings-on in the world below the surface. From the Sheaf in 2013:
“Legend has it, when [an engineering student] dropped out due to his excessive partying, he took to living in the tunnels from the shame of his failure and bankruptcy. He survived by stealing money and food from passersby.”
Who are they really? What are they really? Look around, and you’ll see. A recent Sheaf survey, asking students if they are a mole person, found that a staggering 17 per cent of the student population who participated do in fact identify as creatures of the deep. They’re your computer-science classmates, your teaching assistants, your French tutorial leaders. They’re members of USask Improv, and they sit on USSU committees.[pullquote]“Mole people exist. They’re in our classes and our computer labs. They even use the library.”[/pullquote]
Ever the optimist, Laura McPherson — a first-year student in the College of Arts and Science with little knowledge of the repercussions of colonialism or the consequences of exposure to radiation — believes that the discovery of the tunnels is a positive thing for all parties involved.
“This glimpse into the lives of these poor humanoid beings is really such a powerful eye-opener. Hopefully, we can show them what it’s like to live outside — then maybe they won’t have such weird, translucent skin,” McPherson said.
In a muffled, static-filled and abruptly disconnected phone interview with the Sheaf, Anthony Bahn, in his sixth year as an undeclared student at the U of S, offers his testimonial.
“I found the tunnels one night after my FREN 106 final. I don’t know how I found them, I just remember really feeling like something was missing,” Bahn said.
After spending 16 hours walking aimlessly through the basement of the Education Building, Bahn located the entrance to the tunnels by following festive music that he first believed was coming from a music-department rehearsal room.
“I arrived during the non-denominational wintertime festival — our society is inclusive and diverse — and I decided right then and there never to speak to my family or friends on the outside again and to live in permanent underground exile from the modern world with my mole brethren,” Bahn said.
Though there is still much to be known about the mole people’s governing structures, origins, history, culture, biological makeup, etc., one thing is for certain — the U of S now stands as the only university in Canada with an intelligent pest problem.
A group of students identifying as inhabitants of the newly uncovered underground society are calling for better representation in the governing student body.
Many mole people feel that their needs as mole people are being overlooked and that a long history of ignorance above ground has left their community in a state of social disrepair.
The University of Saskatchewan Mole Students Students’ Society, or USMSSS, claims to have been denied ratification by the U of S Students’ Union for five consecutive years.
President and blood heir to the Mole King throne, Zacharias Loamson III, is working to organize an above-ground rally for the mole students to call attention to their struggles over recents years. He believes that bringing his peers out into the open will be a reminder, for both top dwellers and mole people alike, that unity is the strongest defense against further cuts to student funding by the provincial government.
“We’re trying to make allies here. I think this year’s USSU executive members will be more willing to recognize us and hear our concerns, if we agree to join their efforts to stop provincial budget cuts,” Loamson said.
Loamson laments that it’s not always easy to make these executive calls, but he tries not to let personal relationships cloud his judgement.
“It’s hard to know who to trust — Brad Wall used to live next door to me in Cave 679,” Loamson said.
MOLE PEOPLE FACTS
- A recent Sheaf survey, asking students if they are a mole person, found that a staggering 17 per cent of the student population who participated do in fact identify as creatures of the deep.
- Over three-quarters of all campus meal plans sold go to the sentient mole population.
- St. Thomas More was extremely claustrophobic, and the decision not to build a tunnel to the STM building was made in respect to his sensitivities.
Mole students’ rallies are scheduled on Oct. 6, 7 and 8 in the Bowl. For more information, visit www.molestudentsspeak.org or follow the action on twitter @molestudentzspeak
Emily Migchels / Opinions Editor
Graphics: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor
Map: Original graphic by Stephanie Mah with alterations by Emily Migchels
Disclaimer: The content of this feature is speculative and almost entirely satirical.