“It’s a lie,” said one student. “If someone dies during the test, you don’t automatically get an A.”
Photo by Amit Roth
As students walk into their exam halls in the following weeks for late midterms and finals, they will be greeted by an unusual sight. One might expect an underpaid human proctor, but UC San Diego has hired “Thomas the Ultimate Haruspex,” a sentient, floating eyeball that is over eight feet in diameter. Thomas’ ability to proctor multiple exams at once has allowed UCSD to replace the entire Academic Integrity Office and their exam proctors, putting “baker’s dozens” of students out of a job.
Records indicate Thomas was hired after UCSD created the Hell Exchange Labor Learning (HELL) program. Part of the HELL program included trading 70 union TAs for one worker from the underworld. The HELL program hires require no payment aside from tormented mortal souls, a resource that UCSD generates at nearly twice the rate of other universities. After a five-minute interview and a 30-minute training session on the basics of spotting wandering eyes, shushing students, and passing out exam packets, Thomas became a certified proctor. Many students who have taken exams proctored by Thomas described it as “weird” and “an unwinnable staring contest,” while others reported feeling comforted by the fact their classmates will face harsh punishments for cheating, thus making grades more fair.
UCSD made a press release in support of their decision to hire Thomas, stating: “It doesn’t blink, can’t be bribed with anything mortals can offer, and it is never going to unionize. It’s the best thing to happen to this school since we found out we can recycle waste from Scripps by serving it at Makai.” Others are more critical of Thomas, citing its supposed “draconian punishments” for cheating students. First-year biology student French Cooper said, “I was in the middle of taking my BILD 1 final, proctored by the eyeball, when my buddy Carmichael was caught peeping over my shoulder for a question. The eyeball teleported above him and emitted these terrible, ghostly whispers in a language that made my nose bleed. Ever since then, Carmichael can no longer walk on his feet — he has to do cartwheels everywhere.”
A former UCSD academic integrity officer stated, “It’s obvious that Thomas is the future of academic integrity. The Office of the Chancellor has gone as far as to destroy the Academic Integrity Office and replace it with a space reminiscent of a dungeon from the middle ages decorated with candles, an engraved pentagram, and a 13-foot-tall eyelash curler.” Other schools have asked to borrow Thomas, but UCSD has been reluctant to lend it out, opting instead to offer it a 400-year-long exclusivity contract.
When asked about its first few weeks on the job and how it plans on working in the future, Thomas gave no answer and instead went back to staring at a copy of Colleen Hoover’s Reminders of Him.