When they moved the tiny Ombudsman’s Office into McDonnell Hall across campus, its old location was absorbed by its neighbor, becoming an extension of the Records Office (its emergency fire escape in point of fact).

The university had placed a standard sign on the footpath leading by the old Ombudsman’s, largely because it was so tucked away in a much larger building that people were always walking right by it (and then walking right by the sign in the Records Office that said “OMBUDS OFFICE THAT WAY” to ask the secretary for directions). But when the office moved, it was superfluous. The Records Office had its own sign on the other side of the building and there was a sign on the door for anyone who tried to go in.

But did the administration take it down? No, of course not. Instead, at great expense, they removed the informative part of the sign from its frame and replaced it with a blank square in one of the school’s colors. So it became a sign that took up valuable real estate, was constructed in the same way as all the other campus signs, but conveyed no useful information. It irked me, walking as I did along that path nearly every day.

Once I became frustrated enough with the absurdity that I took a marker our of my bag and scrawled “ce n’est pas un signe” on it. I don’t know if my French was up to the task, but it sure made me feel better. In response, the administration (again presumably at great expense) replaced the featureless, informationless colored square with a fresh one.

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