Students in President Bollinger’s Freedom of Speech and Press class were met with a surprise this afternoon when their esteemed preceptor eschewed his normal rapid-fire Socratic inquiry and instead launched into an hour-long elucidation of the ongoing financial and economic meltdown. After warning us that his cell phone might start ringing during the lecture, he first reminded us that he serves on the NY Federal Reserve Board, although he acknowledged that economics was by no means his area of expertise.

After ascertaining that not many students’ professors had been discussing the banking collapse, Bollinger commenced a 45 minute-long history of the events leading up to the current crisis, touching on everything from petrodollars to the wisdom of Warren Buffett, whom PrezBo knows personally, he would have you know.

Students were taking notes and asking questions as if the subject matter were directly relevant to the course. Bollinger commented that the University is “not immune” to the crisis, and looked strained when one pupil mentioned that student loan interest rates had skyrocketed. “That’s major,” he said dejectedly.

As for our futures, he expressed similar pessimism. Many of us, he surmised, would be applying to law and medical school instead of seeking employment. We chuckled nervously. As a glimpse of his perception of student life, he said that we surely were still going “to restaurants, to the bookstore, out in the city” but that we should be wary: ordinary life was “dissolving” all around us. Although, he added, we might emerge from this unscathed, happy we had escaped a “near death experience.” He implied this was unlikely.

But surely his area of expertise had some relevance to the day’s lecture. The press, Bollinger concluded, had failed to foresee and clarify the economic crisis much as it had failed to question officials during the leadup to Iraq. Although, really, are they in any position to perform valiantly?