Choking the phrase out between sobs, a tear-soaked Rashid Zia attempted to calm himself during another restless night by repeating the words “Mind if I sit with you?” over and over again.
“Mind…mind if I sit with… with… you,” Zia muttered shakily as a fresh tear rolled down his cheek, barely getting the words out without completely losing it. “I’d… I’d love to have a chat about the…the… open curriculum.”
Burying his face in his hands and starting to bawl, the distraught dean envisioned his happy place: approaching freshmen in the Ratty in a crisp suit, offering counsel on Brown’s academic resources in a casual, laid-back setting.
“Oh god. Come on Rashid,” he howled, trying desperately to remember simpler times as the sun rose on his sleepless night. “Imagine you’re there right now. You clock a gawky kid eating alone. You walk over. You smile. You say ‘Want some company?’ And for a moment, all is well. All is well, Rashid. All is well.”
At press time, a delirious Zia was creating paper-mache students to converse with.