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Students were left gibbering this afternoon after the Tychy website broke the news that the Edinburgh University endowment fund is, in fact, undertaking hydraulic fracturing beneath Bristo Square. The condemnation was universal; the horror is far off any previously recognised scale of moral indignation. The University of Edinburgh has today combined in one huge wail.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla Resources, the shale gas exploration company which has been invited to drill below Bristo Square, confirmed to Tychy that, “There are several hundred trillion cubic feet of gas beneath the Potterow student union. There are a couple of billion underneath the Chaplaincy Centre. Extracting these resources could provide ten, maybe even a dozen jobs, and it could keep Scotland’s entire economy bumping along for possibly another three months.”

The reaction was swift from the Edinburgh University branch of People & Planet. Tuileries Petty-Soul, the P&P spokeswoman, told Tychy that, “Well, we did initially think it a bit peculiar that they were taking over two years to refurbish a square. I mean, a square’s flat – there aren’t even any buildings – so how could it take them so long? We imagined that they would end up unveiling some kind of mosaic or painstakingly crafted pointillist floor-mural. After all, there has been this dustbowl right in the middle of the last two Edinburgh Fringes, and they have even had to move the Uni’s graduation ceremonies. We had naturally expected something truly spectacular in exchange for these years of disruption, inconvenience, and reputational damage. Anything else would be insane. But fracking – actual fracking! – below the very streets where we at People & Planet were holding our divestment rallies! I remember saying at the time that our lattes were strangely frothy for soya ones. It was obviously the earthquakes.”

Tychy approached Rupert Blitheringham-Blytheringhame, a spokesman for Fossil Free UK, for a comment. Rupert was sleeping under a piece of battered corrugated sheet-iron in the Meadows, using a dead dog as a pillow and surrounded by his own excrement. Rupert submitted the comment that, “We at Fossil Free UK will never be satisfied until everybody is living in absolute poverty. We want Edinburgh University to divest from a monetary economy by putting its money where it belongs – IN THE GROUND. My parents own a third of Hampshire – I was sent to board when I was five – affluence has ravaged my life and left scars that will never heal.”

A university spokesman clarified its investment priorities. “We had initially planned to spend over £33 million of the university’s money on trying to get rid of those pesky skaters from Bristo Square. Yes, I admit it – nobody in the media has dared contemplate the sheer awfulness of this, the stupendous scale of our pettiness, but it’s all true.

“We were so frustrated that a genuine community – one which was unintended by the architects – and not even featuring in the original construction plans – was using our public place in a spontaneous way, with no risk-assessments being carried out and no health-and-safety supervision. So we spent £33 million of your money – that’s right, guys! – on a coordinated strategy to repel them. We calculated that nobody would be able to believe in the end that we had really spent such a vast sum on such an act of bureaucratic spite. We judged that a two-year fake refurbishment would be long enough for all of the skateboarders to drift away and forget about the square, whereupon we’d open it again as normal.

“Next, however, we discovered the shale gas and now we’re as rich as a Morningside bachelor. Yippee!”

Atticus Finchtackle, the holistic community-cohesion spokesbeing for the Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA), nominated a new use for Bristo Square. “With boarding all around the venue to keep out misogynists and the less progressively educated, and loud drilling to drown out any harmful quotes from racists such as Abraham Lincoln, Bristo Square makes the ideal Safe Space. The hard hats are comfortable and they make me feel extra safe. The earthquakes from the fracking are calming, gently tickling the soles of my feet. I am a naked babe in my mother’s womb.”

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