Citing recent budget cuts as well as seasonal drops in work, the University of Iowa, as well other other colleges in the U.S. announced Monday that they will be humanely putting down 50 Teaching Assistants in the coming week.
“Some of them might become professors, get tenure, and get put out to pasture,” said Trish Chasseur, Head of the Iowa Wildlife Management Department. “But for most of them, it comes down to a budget problem. Each TA we keep requires food, shelter, and high-speed Internet connection, as well as health insurance. The costs can really creep up on you, and this is a business, after all.”
The Iowa TAs, primarily graduate students in their mid-twenties native to the prairie habitats of Central Iowa, will be euthanized using a combination of ethical methods employed by regional slaughterhouses.
“They’re beautiful creatures; it’s really a shame,” continued Chasseur, feeding a carrot to a bearded TA named Lucas Murphy. “If it was up to me, we’d sell licenses to hunt a few of them a year, and use the profits from that to fund a wildlife preserve.”
The decision has been met with some backlash from the community, and the formation of the organization PETTA, People For The Ethical Treatment Of Teaching Assistants. They have staged several protests, and claimed responsibility for vandalizing the Old Capitol Mall with the slogan, “TAs are People Too!” The greater Iowa City community, however, remains unfazed.
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“I’m sorry if this isn’t ‘politically correct,’ but I grew up on a farm,” said Lucille Jimenez, mother of one of the condemned TAs. “And if one of the milker cows stopped pulling her weight, then that was that. Pa took her out back and we had steaks for a week.”
When pressed for an official statement on the controversy, Chasseur commented, “I’m proud to work here. Iowa has a great track record of humane treatment. Did you know we used to let the TAs free graze and study on the Pentacrest lawns? I’m trying to get that reinstated.”
Conservation experts have applauded the move, stating that culling the weak and emotionally fragile in the current population of TAs will actually strengthen the pack, as well as ensure that the next generation of TAs, currently senior undergraduates, will have a place to move into when they come of age.
Contrary to widespread rumors, however, the university will not engage in the controversial TA breeding programs seen in other schools like Iowa State, and will maintain a strong commitment to cracking down on organized gambling based around underground TA fighting.
“It’s hard not to get attached,” said Chasseur, stroking the thinning hair of a docile chemistry TA. “When they stare up at you with their big baleful eyes, it’s almost like they know what’s going on. It can make it that much harder to pull the trigger.”
At current, the university has plans to donate the bodies of the TAs to a number of scientific research centers around the county, as well as to the Des Moines Zoo, where they will be fed to the lions and tigers in a special public event.
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