Students woke up this past Monday to a dense fog that had settled over the shallow hills on campus, but few suspected that anything was out of the ordinary and ignored the ominous harbinger of a debacle yet to ensue. It was a seemingly peaceful morning that boasted a slight chill in the air and abundant dew on the ground, but everything was about to change.
Dr. Daniel Rinehart’s constitutional law class takes place thrice a week in the basement of Dimnent Chapel. At 9:30 Monday morning, sophomore student and recently-declared political science major Will VanKoop was seen arriving to class with a slightly haunted look in his eye, according to classmates. His hands were red and raw from what his roommate reports was a continuous wringing throughout the previous night. When Dr. Rinehart cold-called him in class, asking for the facts of the case at hand, the student’s mouth merely opened and closed, seemingly unable to articulate anything besides the fear that never seemed to depart from his visage. At 10:24, VanKoop was observed sprinting out of the chapel, through the pine grove and off Hope’s campus. He has not been seen since.
Investigations into VanKoop’s disappearance reveal that his difficulties began soon after he declared a major in political science. “He was super into all that government stuff,” said his roommate, sophomore Kyle Pringles. “Not my thing, but he knew right away that he wanted to study it. Only problem was the whole advisor situation.”
The “advisor situation” originated when two prominent professors in the Political Science Department, Dr. Porter and Dr. Rinehart, took an interest in the academic career of the promising young student. Both wanted the opportunity to be his advisor, but the two could not come to a consensus about who should be the one to help VanKoop navigate his political science major. “Poor guy just couldn’t choose between them,” said VanKoop’s classmate Grace Green. “He’d meet with Porter and get all excited about federalism, and then he’d talk to Rinehart and get all fired up about the Supreme Court. It was really tearing him apart.”
Students familiar with the department know all too well of the friendly feud between the two professors, who trade barbs on the regular and refer to each other’s advisees bitterly as “Rinhartites” and the “Porter people.” Porter was recently caught on the record saying that he does not care about the phrasing of the Constitution because it is “just words,” inciting a days-long dispute that involved the silent treatment and the exchange of a copious amount of mean-spirited sticky notes.
In an alarming twist of events, VanKoop’s inability to choose an advisor did end up threatening to tear him apart—literally. After much arguing over who should get to advise the student, Dr. Porter and Dr. Rinehart arrived at a solution that seemed reasonable: each professor would get half of the student. “As soon as Will heard about it, he totally freaked out,” said VanKoop’s roommate. “Dude came back to the room talking about how his professors were going to chop him in two. I didn’t believe him at first, but then he started packing. And now nobody’s seen him in days.”
Sources close to the two say that they are unsurprised by this turn of events, citing the longstanding rivalry as well as Dr. Rinehart’s tendency to say, “You can’t split the baby,” in what was supposedly a figurative reference to the inability to please all individuals caught up in an incendiary issue. Authorities claim it would have been practically impossible to know that such language could escalate to the point of sawing an indecisive student into discrete halves. Any parties present when such words were uttered can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that they will not be held liable for a lack of intervention.
When asked about the disappearance of their student, both professors admitted that their “solomonic compromise,” though it seemed sensible at the time, might not have been the best plan. Any students who have information related to the whereabouts of the missing political science student are asked to call local authorities, and any students considering declaring a major in the discipline are advised to make a quick and decisive choice of advisor.