The lack of progress during the student meeting could be largely attributed to the fact that no one listened to each other’s opinions. They didn’t take the other side’s perspective or right to speak into consideration. Students cut each other off without hearing out their peers, which in turn caused them to raise their voices in order to finish their sentences. The mental fatigue of the students only grew worse as the meeting dragged on.Logical reasoning was thrown out the window. If such a conference were to be forcibly prolonged, the outcome would be as follows.
“I’ve had enough of this already. Let’s just assume that I’m the culprit and be done with this meeting.”
“That’s out of the question. Who are you covering for?”
“Is there even a culprit in the first place?”
“Didn’t we just talk about this? Don’t try to bring up a problem we already dealt with.”
“But, seriously. Do you really think someone among us would actually think of stealing the test questions from the staff room?”
“Rather than questioning our morals, shouldn’t we consider whether or not it’s even physically possible?”
“Let’s talk about what it means to have guts.”
“Are you stupid? What’s the point of this conference? Everyone’s just lying anyway.”
“Excuse me, I would like everyone to raise their hands before expressing their opinions.”
“In this day and age, test questions can be computer generated, right? So even without sneaking into the staff room, they could obtain them by hacking or something.”
“We’re not in a TV drama.”
“It’s a bit late to mention this, but I think Oikura was the one who taught that last question. I’m not too sure though.”
“It’s better if you don’t say anything if you’re not sure. If you ruined someone’s reputation, would you be able to take responsibility? You never learn from your mistakes.”
“Please raise your hands.”
“Hey, it looks like you guys can deal with this without me, so can I go home?”
“I won’t let you.”
“We could accuse you of being the culprit if you leave, you know?”
“Oh, I’m fine with that. If we decide that I’m the criminal, I can leave right?”
“What are you trying to show off for? You’re disgusting. Are you sure you’re not planning something? Now that I think of it, didn’t you—”
“Higuma-kun would never do something like that.”
“Hey, you didn’t show up at the study session even though you invited me. Why was that?”
“Are you doubting me?”
“I thought you were just the kind of person to do this sort of thing.”
“Excuse me, everyone. Please calm down. Let’s discuss this in an orderly fashion.”
“Like we could keep calm in this situation!”
“Let’s just stop, guys. Why don’t we leave this to the teachers?”
“Correcting your own mistakes is an important aspect of life. We should first try to deal with our own problems by ourselves.”
“I thought I said I have nothing to do with this!”
“If you have something to sa—”
“If Araragi got a hundred on the test, it means the test can be solved, right? Then all this talk about academic dishonesty and cheating is just nonsense.”
“Oh my goooood. I’m so done with this. I want to go home.”
“Then go home. You’ll just end up being the culprit.”
“I don’t want to be told that by the guy who got the trigonometry questions wrong.”
“Says the one who missed the problems with diagrams on them!? You could totally guess the answer just by looking at the picture!”
“How about this? Let’s write down the names of whoever answered the three difficult questions correctly but got the easier ones wrong.”
“What’s the point of that?”
“How did it come to that? Stop basing your words on your emotions. Let’s start thinking in a more logical manner, everyone.”
“Don’t think, feel.”
“Stop messing around, Nagagutsu-kun!”
“You’ve been so quiet this entire time. What do you think, Senjougahara?”
“I’m not too sure.”
“Hoy, everyone. I’ve got somethin’ I’d like to tell ya guys.”
“Do it later!”
“Stop shouting. So unseemly.”
“Stop fidgeting. Or do you have something you’re trying to hide?”
“Isn’t it pretty clear that I’m not the culprit?”
“Dude, you’re the only one who thinks that!”
“What’s with that attitude? Take back what you said.”
“Araragi, at least try do your job properly.”
“It could have just been normal cheating. Like a group of cheaters or something.”
“Even if that was the case, it doesn’t change the fact that it was the participants of the study session that did it.”
“What about the other subjects? The test results weren’t biased in the other subjects, right?”
“Well, there was no study session for any of the other subjects in the first place. You would know that if you just thought about it for a second.”
“I’m saying I didn’t know that.”
“Does that mean the culprit didn’t steal the answers to any of the other subjects? If you’re going to steal one of them, you might as well steal the rest of them, right?”
“Stop acting like you would know. What are you, playing detective or something?”
“Then the students with high scores in other subjects are suspicious?”
“First of all, why was there only a study session for the math test? If there had been a study session for history as well, then I would have participated.”
“It would be unsightly for the math teacher’s homeroom class to have low scores in math, wouldn’t it? Basically, it’s for appearances. We’re studying for the sake of the class president’s reputation.”
“That’s not why. It’s because, amongst all the various subjects, math is the most beautiful of them all.”
“You’re the only one who thinks that. What do you even mean by ‘beautiful’? Isn’t that just what you think?”
“I hate math.”
“Can you not comprehend the beauty of math?”
“Studying isn’t about likes and dislikes. Why are people like you even enrolled in Naoetsu High School?”
“What, jealous of my grades?”
“Please stop the fighting.”
“We’re not fighting. It’s all because this guy keeps saying weird things. Like the fact that he thinks it’s ridiculous that I’m even enrolled in this high school.”
“I never said that!”
“I’m planning to study humanities in the future, so math isn’t exactly my greatest concern. I plan on taking a college entrance exam that doesn’t have any math in it.”
“Ah, me too.”
“Don’t just tag along.”
“Don’t worry, it’s not like I’m doing it because you are.”
“Hey, you guys haven’t contributed to the discussion this entire time.”
“We don’t have anything to say, though.”
“I have an alibi!”
“We haven’t even determined when the crime occurred, so what the heck are you saying about an alibi?”
“I have a witness—someone who can guarantee that I’m not the kind of person to do something so rash.”
“Then, uh, what was the culprits their incentive? Did they really just doing this for fun?”
“Wouldn’t raising the class average be problematic for the culprit? Normally, the criminal would be happier if the class average was lower, right?”
“Well, this may not be just a ‘normal’ case..”
“If you want to say something, you need to speak up loud and clear.”
“Yeah. We don’t have anything to say.”
“The leading question.”
“Let’s get this over with already. I’m fed up with this already and I had plans for a date today too.”
“What the, you’re still going out with that guy?”
“It’s my choice, right?”
“It’s fine if I sleep, right?”
“Now, now, let’s start thinking through this from the beginning,, okay? So first, that day, a note was being passed around during class informing us of the study session an—”
“Hey about that note, though. Why wasn’t it ever passed on to me? I’m going to have to tell Hishigata about this. Were you guys avoiding me? Is this bullying? Do you guys really hate me that much?”
“Well, it wasn’t like we were intentionally avoiding you… you just weren’t there when we were passing it around…”
“Let’s all get along.”
“How could we all just ‘get along’? I’m being doubted here! Even though I never even did anything wrong!”
“Where there’s smoke there’s fire, right?”
“See, this is why no one likes you.”
“What!? I should be saying that!”
“We shouldn’t have organized a study session the first place! Studying is something you would usually do alone anyway!”
…not a single person raised their hands. Students said what they wanted when they wanted to. A “pointless squabble” would be the perfect way to describe the situation at the time. I pity anyone unfortunate enough to read through the entire scene.
They continued to barrage each other with insults without truly speaking their minds.
A lawless zone. A deserted and desolate land.
When everyone was arguing about the same thing, I was able to preserve some semblance of order. But when small squabbles began popping up all over the place, grasping the entire situation and keeping it under control was next to impossible. Though it might sound like an excuse, I don’t think anyone in my position would have been able to prevent the situation from degrading into that. —I left my seat and weaved my way towards a disheartened Oikura.
“……I don’t think it’s possible to continue this meeting. It doesn’t look like it’ll settle down, either.”
It was fifty-eight minutes past five. Rather than a report, it was a declaration of surrender. Well, I wasn’t exactly sure what I had lost to, but even if she intended to harass me, it was evident that I could no longer fulfill the role of chairman that she had left to me.
“Give me a break, Oikura. This is getting out of hand. Let’s end this before it gets unreasonable.”
“What are you whining for? As someone who achieved a higher score than I did, are you that ready to give up?”
Oikura glowered at me. I no longer saw the same burning intensity in her eyes that had been there when the class meeting started.. She was also feeling fatigued. For me, surrendering was simply giving up on a hopeless situation, but in my defense, I was also providing an easy way out for Oikura.
“Come on, just give up. I’m saying it’s not possible.”
“Until we identify the culprit, I’m not going to let anyone leave.”
“How would you even do that? Once the bell chimes, everyone will just stand up and leave. Even you understand that much, right?”
I blurted out the realistic outcome. Perhaps it was something I should not have done. It was something that eventually had to be said, so even if I hadn’t I’m sure someone like Tetsujou or Shuui would have done so in my stead. However, when being told off by me, Oikura felt deeply provoked.
I had forgotten.
Just how deeply Oikura despised me.
There’s no doubt I should have left that dirty work for others to deal with. What exactly was I thinking? That I could give a warning to Oikura? Was it a sense of obligation? Or was it some kind of expectation? Did I at some point become so conceited that I thought she actually saw me as a rival, that she didn’t hate me, and that I could possibly establish a good relationship with her? Did I think that hidden behind those scornful eyes were the tender feelings of an innocent maiden?
But, reality isn’t so simple.
While enduring the mental exhaustion, Oikura had consolidated all of the disgust that resided at the bottom of her heart,
“I despise you.”
Then, leaving me standing dumbfounded, she rapidly walked away from her seat and took her place at the teacher’s lectern. She slammed both hands down onto the lectern, immediately gathering everyone’s attention. However, because the class had yet to fully settle down,
With this, a heavy curtain of silence finally fell over the classroom. No one could disguise the gloom and boredom plastered over their faces. I’m sure it was because the moment the chairman had changed, they felt like the conference was starting anew. I, too, felt as if we had returned to square zero. “If you’re going to switch chairmen, then do it earlier!” (TN: I think this is what Araragi thinks what he was about to say) Sure enough, Kouma began to try to lodge another complaint, but Oikura interjected.
she yelled again.
“I think the discussion has deteriorated enough.”
Hearing this, I sighed in relief. As if the negative pressure she had exerted in my presence never existed, her voice was calm and composed. With Oikura’s consent, the conference would reach its conclusion. As both the organizer of the class meeting and the study session, she had intended to dish out harsh punishment to the culprits. However, we never reached a conclusion, the culprit was never identified, and the criminals never turned themselves in. We had tried our hardest, cooperated as a whole (kind of), and if the meeting were to end like this, we might as well give ourselves a couple pats on the back and go home satisfied. Well, despite the strained atmosphere, she would definitely come out with the best decision—I thought.
I was wrong. She had intended to continue this “criminal identification” until the very end. After all, she didn’t even need me to tell her that there was no other choice than to end the conference. However, if she was going to end the meeting, she was determined to squeeze out a conclusion first.
“As a result, we will now hold a vote.”
It was futile to try to save this fool.
The worst choice possible.
That is what she proclaimed.
“We will now determine the culprit through majority rule.”