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Matthew Hein:New reality television: ‘Winter Term’

Welcome to the fabulous second season of the all-new reality show “Winter Term.” Our producers have scoured the state, the nation – indeed, the world – to assemble this cast of thousands. Join us as we watch them scheme, scramble, complete, cooperate, connive and compose essays on torrid topics.

Who will survive to be awarded with grades and degrees? You won’t want to miss a single episode of … “Winter Term.”

Some of your old favorites are back, of course.

Sam, for instance, is still where we left him last episode. Watch as he wanders from line to line in Neuberger Hall, trying to crack the code that will allow him to move on to the next challenge.

Meanwhile, the honeymooning couple, Dan and Denise, seem poised to present their forms and fees.

We here at the network have pulled one last trick out of our sleeves, however. Will they be bogged down in the swamp of degree requirements, or will they ascend to the top of the ivory tower and reap their rewards?

We have also added a couple of twists to test the daring and bravery of our contestants. As they run the gamut from cafeteria to cafeteria, they must find just the right combination of sustenance and sugar, carrot juice and caffeine, if they are to stay alert through their alternately rigorous and stultifying academic schedules. And our cameras will be there with them, from the morning commute to the final locker slamming.

Remember, not everyone can win this contest. We’ve increased the stakes this year with a little thing we call a tuition surcharge. The lackadaisical local economy should add to the stress and excitement as contestants jockey for remunerative part-time employment.

Just to spice things up a touch, the rat race that has so completely thrilled audiences will be extended this season. Now participation in the game may include all non-tenured faculty and staff. When recent hires have to balance their time between their students’ welfare and their own, things really start to heat up.

Our producers had been planning to construct an entirely new set for the show this season, but at the last moment thought better of it. After all, why go to such great effort and expense when the existing structures could become all the more challenging by simply allowing the ravages of time to work their magic.

When the temperature starts dropping in Cramer Hall, you won’t want to miss one minute of the thrills and chills of “Winter Term.”

And what’s this?

Might there be a little trouble in the computer lab lines? Will contestants spend their valuable campus cash on bottled water or risk a tryst with the drinking fountains of danger?

These courageous characters are allowed to carry with them only what they can pack on their backs or trundle around on little luggage carts. They must move from classroom to councilor to classroom to computer lab, receiving and completing assignments before advancing to the next stage. Those who voluntarily excused themselves from competition over the first two weeks have been returned a percentage of their original investments as parting gifts.

For those who remain, the stakes are high. The “group work” assignment is sure to be especially grueling. In this stage, contestants divided into small sections and handed a task to complete in cooperative fashion. Those who watched last season will remember the wily survivor who somehow prevailed upon his teammates to give him the job of stapling the report together, while they labored away in the library.

Many of the assignments are judged by our expert professionals. The results of this judging (“grades”) follow the show’s participants from one season to the next as they traverse their way to the top of the heap. Naturally, some of our experts are kinder than others.

There have been other reality-based television shows before, but none so devious as this. You won’t want to miss a single episode – but if you absolutely must, bring a note from the doctor and copy the notes from a classmate. This is must-see TV, and consistent attendance is required