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Haystack on the Phone: WEPO Director Clark Corker



After deciding to go forward with an in-person experience, the Williams College Exeter Programme at Oxford, which dates back to 1985, had a frightening run-in with Covid-19 earlier this fall. The Haystack reached out to Director Clark Corker to get his take on what happened—and what could’ve gone better.


The Haystack:

So tell us a little bit about the semester. WEPO had a Covid scare, right?


Clark Corker:

Well, “scare” is what I like to call a loaded word. I think it would be more fair to say we had a Covid experience. Or maybe a Covid party. Or no, wait, that sounds bad. Experience.


TH:

We have here that 12 of your 22 students died.


CC:

First of all, those numbers are disputed. But even if that were the case—and if it were, my sincerest well-wishes go out to the families—we still had one heck of a term! These kids, man, they really put their heads down and got their work done. Take Jimmy Valmer for example. Even when the cowards back at Williams were calling in-person classes with untested Oxford students “risky,” Jimmy still seized the day and went into Exeter to meet with his tutors. May he rest in peace.


TH:

Some WEPO students have expressed concerns about the activities you allowed and promoted as director. Could you tell us a little bit about that?


CC:

Well, the thing is, nobody can ever be perfectly safe, even during non Covid times. You could walk outside your house in Williamstown and get hit by all of your clothes that your wife is throwing out of the window. Right?


TH:

Right.


CC:

So it’s all about risks and rewards. Like, I told the students the first day they arrived that they’d have to wear masks on campus, no exceptions.


TH:

That seems reasonable.


CC:

And, y’know, I felt a little like a hard-ass doing it, but it made sense to me because, first of all, I mean, WEPO kids… I mean you know as well as I do… they’re not exactly out there winning beauty pageants. I mean, you know the type of kids who… you know, these were the kids who were, like, theater kids in high school, but they didn’t even get good lines, they were in the ensemble. They were like the theater kids’ theater kids. Do you follow me?


TH:

. . .


CC:

And then second of all, I didn’t feel too bad because these masks—man you should’ve seen them—these masks were just a hoot. They just put a smile on my face. They were those really life-like rubber horse masks that flop around everywhere when you put them on. Have you seen those before?


TH:

Sorry, just to be clear: these weren’t Covid masks?


CC:

I mean, what even is a “Covid” “mask”? Hypothetically, if I stretched out a condom over my head during sex as a joke, and then I started to suffocate and my wife had to take me to the hospital, is that a Covid mask?


TH:

No, that’s not a Covid mask.


CC:

Exactly, we’re saying the same thing.


TH:

So what are you thinking of changing going forward?


CC:

Well, the good news is that we have far more rooms per student this time around, because, as you alluded to before, somewhere between one and twenty-two of our students, uhh, won’t be coming back next term.


TH:

So all students will be given singles?


CC:

That’s a possibility, yes. I’m more of the opinion to invest in one huge floor-sized mattress, stuff all of the kids in one room, and then have twenty-five other rooms as quarantine rooms just in case. But that will need administrative approval so I’ll have to keep you posted.


TH:

Will testing capacities be upgraded?


CC:

Well, we actually just invested in these new tests that they have, these things work wonders, they’re called the S.L.A.P. test, have you heard of these?


TH:

No, tell us about them.


CC:

Okay so—and I’m no epidemiologist—but basically, every Monday and Thursday we take the kids one by one into our makeshift testing center. We tell the kid to put their hand up to their face, and then if they do it we hit their hand right into their face. I swear to God, these fuckers fall for it every single time. 100% positivity rate—that’s like 30%, 40% higher than the rates we were seeing with the old testing program.


TH:

Is… does Williams know about/


CC:

/And it’s worth saying that this is the only time we let them take those horse masks off. Not for exercise, not for showers, not for nothing. And let me tell you, those kids reek.


TH:

Do you have any idea when WEPO will be able to get vaccinated this spring?


CC:

When it comes to the vaccine we’ve taken matters into our own hands. While the NHS messes around and gives dolphins bionic vaginas, or whatever the hell they’re doing over there, we’ve been making steady progress on a vaccine that I think—and this is optimistic, but grounded in data—should be done by February.


TH:

I’m sorry, you’re making your own vaccine?


CC:

Everybody knows that the only real way to stop this thing for certain, and to safely get back to our normal lives—you know, eating out, dancing, seeing your kids if your wife lets you—the only way you get any of that is with a vaccine. So as soon as we arrived on campus in Oxford, I grabbed the one Bio major we have and locked him in a room with two test tubes, a full box of baking soda, and a pound of lab-quality DMT. He’s been in there since September 21st, and we’ve been mixing adderall in with all of his meals, so I’m feeling pretty confident.


TH:

Um, okay. Well, thank you for joining us, Mr. Corker. We’re sure you’re very busy and we thank you for taking the time.


CC:

Oh, it’s my pleasure. We’re on break, so all I have to do these days is reload the hand sanitizer stations with cat pee. Say—this is all off the record, right?


TH:

We can assure you that this won’t be anywhere near The Record.