Every time you find yourself here, it’s because you chose to come back.

Hello, my name is __, and I have, of my own free accord, elected to undergo the procedure known as Severance.

So maybe Lee Bollinger can’t cut the student population by half to bolster Columbia’s place on the rankings. But something must be done. The advent and the possibility of virtual classes have left too many students with a taste for home and no love for their campus. They drag too much of the outside in, trudging across the pristine lawns and disrupting the geometric lines of Butler and Hamilton, NoCo and Mudd.

Fortunately, Columbia is nothing if not a hub of groundbreaking research. And up at the medical center, a new neurological chip has been developed.

I give consent for Columbia University to sever my memories between my school life and my personal life.

You walk out of the Broadway gates on 116th—or the gates at Carman, or 117th, or across the street at Wien. It doesn’t matter. The first step out is the first step back in, at least that you remember. For the you that exists at the university, your memories are bounded by the campus’s edges and dictated by the timetable of classes and off-peak hours. There is a student who walks out of those gates when you leave, but you share none of the same experiences, none of the same memories. Just an appearance and a name.

I acknowledge that once the procedure is complete, I will be unable to access my personal memories whilst on Columbia’s Severed campus…

If some changes are made on campus in light of the new Severance procedure, who will there be to complain? Class hours can be lengthened and credits more difficult to obtain, the tunnels reopened so that students can dart from one to the next without ever seeing the sunlight. The King’s Crown becomes a symbol of the administration’s benevolence, of its right to rule with an iron fist. Students on the inside, possessing only memories of the new Columbia, will know nothing different; students on the outside will not know that anything is different.

…nor will I retain school memories when I return home at the end of the semester.

Some might say that the implemented Severance procedure undercuts the fundamental principle of education: obtaining skills and knowledge which can be transferred elsewhere. But muscle memory will carry through well enough. Students will speak or program in a language they never remember learning, assert positions and philosophies they never remember taking.

I am aware that this alteration is comprehensive and irreversible.

And really, what could be better for increasing the university’s prestige? A city on a hill, an institution of higher learning with no one to know the pesky reality inside its gates, beautiful from the outside and the inside finally unknowable.

I make these statements freely.

Columbia’s new work layout via Severance intro