Madam President: Can She Read?

Madam President: Can She Read?

Every celebrity has fallen victim to the rumour mill. Jamie Foxx died and was replaced by a clone; Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were boning during their One Direction days; Keanu Reeves is immortal; Khloé Kardashian is OJ Simpson’s daughter; Jennifer Lawrence faked her 2013 Oscars trip for attention; Michael Cera is the mastermind behind CeraVe; and student president Keegan Wells can’t read. 

The rumour began with the woman herself, joking to Critic’s News Editor Hugh before a recent exec meeting, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I got [Admin VP] Emily to read the meeting agenda to me?” But was this a joke, or a classic reverse psychology cover-up? Is the political mastermind hiding in plain sight? “I laughed along at first,” says Hugh. “But thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her read the agenda [...] she always asks [OUSA Secretary] Donna what’s next.” 

Our suspicions were raised. “I didn’t really think anything of it at the time,” Emily tells Critic. “Keegan’s always getting me to do odd jobs, so it wasn’t exactly out of the ordinary.” She wouldn’t elaborate on these “odd jobs”, but Critic suspects it has something to do with the totally real and legit bird noises on campus. Other exec members tell Critic that Keegan almost exclusively communicates with voice memos and gifs in the exec chat, and point out that she said her ANZAC service speech without any notes.

Asked whether these behaviours could be something to do with her reading abilities, Emily glanced furtively at the baby monitor strapped to her (beck and call to new extremes). As she diplomatically said, “Keegan is doing an amazing job, and if she were a man there wouldn’t be this sort of scrutiny,” she slid a piece of paper across the table where we sat. A clue! “Look at her copy of the exec agenda.”

The team at Critic were in a frenzy over these comments. We spotted the document in question at the next exec meeting. Under the official OUSA logo, pictures spelled out “welcome to the meeting” with a picture of a well, emoji cum, stock image ‘duh’ and a picture of a meeting. OUSA is in on the secret, it seems. In response to our queries, CEO Debbie simply said, “No comment.”

One student Critic spoke to pointed out that she used to work as a writer for Critic: “Surely if she couldn’t read she also wouldn’t be able to write?” There are ways around this, however. Writers are free to work wherever they please (it’s been speculated that Hugh writes articles on his phone as he runs from one interview to another) and Keegan, too, often opted to work remotely. There’s speculation that there were all sorts of tools at her disposal to “write” articles: dictating articles to a friend, or recording herself speaking and running it through a transcription service. “You should have seen what we had to work with sometimes,” says former editor Fox Meyer.

But the question was: would Keegan be foolish enough to leave a trail? Critic sent our photographer on a covert mission to obtain proof. “The evidence is MOUNTING” read an email from Sophia containing the proof we needed. One shows Keegan running Dunedin News comments slamming her NZ Herald op ed (again, jury’s out on whether she wrote it) through speech-to-audio software. She was also caught on her way to a Uni Council meeting in the Clocktower on Friday, May 17th, tripping up the stairs (“good trip?” asked a nearby council member) which left her sprawling – alongside an array of learning to read worksheets. 

Catching wind of Critic’s investigation into the rumours, it appears that Keegan – insisting that she is literate – attempted to throw us off the scent. During a lunch break just last week, Critic was sent a Snap from someone who had spotted her “reading” a copy of Critic in Auahi Ora – upside down. Was this the nail in the coffin for Keegan? In her attempts to set the record straight, had she unintentionally outed herself once and for all? Or was this a ploy the prank-loving president was in on? 

An emotional confrontation between Critic Editor Nina and Keegan in her office saw a confession from the President: “I’m glad it’s out in the open. I feel like I’m being seen [naked] for the first time. It’s honestly freeing to have this great weight lifted off my shoulders. You don’t know how hard it’s been these past few months [...] No one told me reading was a pre-req for the job, but I can see how it would be so much easier if that was the case.” Keegan intends on continuing her studies, saying she would “really love to do a crossword one day, that is my goal for the end of the year.” 

In a cathartic end to a whirlwind of speculation and scandal, our leader leaves us with this: “You don’t need to be able to read to love."

This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2024.
Posted 8:26pm Sunday 26th May 2024 by Nina Brown.