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Satire: UT's inaugural Director of Robot Wellbeing Steve Siri cited instances of robots not being able to keep up with deliveries, while also facing questions from students about their religious beliefs as reasons for the robots’ declining mental health.

The following content is satirical and fictional. Any resemblance to a student, staff or faculty member is coincidental.

The university plans to spend $20 million of this year’s budget on a new triage station for ailing and malfunctioning food delivery robots. Despite administration's belief that the robots are integral to campus life, students say they simply couldn’t care less.

The new triage station will be located in the Student Union Plaza. It will be staffed by nurses who specialize in robot health, according to Steve Siri, UT’s inaugural director of robot wellbeing. Siri says these nurses have been recruited from Silicon Valley programs that train people for situations like this.

“It’s hard to find people who are willing to do the difficult, emotional work like this,” Siri said. “We need workers who can counsel robots that are overwhelmed by the emotional pressures of delivery and campus culture.”

Siri cited instances of robots not being able to keep up with deliveries, while also facing questions from students about their religious beliefs as reasons for the robots’ declining mental health. What adds to their insecurities, Siri says, is the way some students talk about them as something to be afraid of.

Macy Evans, a senior marketing major, is just one student who fears the delivery robots.

“They’re constantly nipping at my heels,” Evans said. “I have nightmares where I’m running from them.”

Over the past few months, students have noticed how much the robots’ health has been declining as they sometimes don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

“The other day I saw one just spinning around in circles while someone’s Starbucks order was leaking out of the bottom,” said Sheila Clark, a sophomore computer science major. “All my friends and I just pointed and laughed at it.”

Not only has delivery been a struggle, but some students, like Adam Cogsworth, a freshman studying business, say that he has seen evidence of mental distress.

“I was trying to get to the library the other day when I heard a sound in a nearby bush,” Cogsworth said. “I peered through the leaves and hidden inside was a robot, making beeping noises that almost sounded like a crying baby. But I honestly didn’t really care. It’s just a robot.”

Administrators say that while the robots have only been on campus for a year, they have become an integral part of campus and are incredibly important to students. Assistant Vice Chancellor of Technological Fellowship, Mindy Edwards, said that they cannot stand by and watch the robots slowly die.

“The robots may have started out as little computers that deliver food, but we can see how much students care about them,” Edwards said. “For some students, the robots have become their best friends. How could we not devote the funding to keeping these cute little guys here?”

The students interviewed for this piece said there seems to be a misunderstanding between administrators and the student body because they do not consider the robots to be friends.

“I’m sorry, but if the robots are your best friends, then you should like join a fraternity or something,” Cogsworth said. “I don’t even know why we’re talking about this. No one I know cares about them.”

Many students are opposed to the plan because it takes funding away from other parts of campus.

“When I saw the university announce a $20 million project, I figured it would be for housing or health care for humans or something,” Evans said. “But it’s just for these little demons on wheels that make my life on campus a living hell.”

But despite the backlash, UT says they will continue on with the plans for the triage center.

“Sure, there’s going to be a student here or there that disagrees with the plan,” Siri said. “But we know that deep down this is a serious issue that the students care about. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure no student has to watch their electronic best friend get wheeled off campus.”

The food delivery robots declined to be interviewed for this article.

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