Tuesday, April 23—When two anthropology majors here at the University of Massachusetts Boston decided to conduct their archaeology field project under Wheatley Hall, their teacher was skeptical that anything new would be found there and advised that they look elsewhere. Yet now the students are glad they didn’t listen to him, as their discovery could prove to be wildly impactful for the entire school.
Junior anthropology majors Lydia Lyduschka and Clarence Sperri discovered what appeared to be a relatively ancient fire burning in a forgotten room in the basement of Wheatley Hall. “It can be difficult to identify the age of a fire without proper equipment,” said Lyduschka, “so we knew the moment we found the thing that we were only going to be able to document a little before leaving for the day.” When Sperri and Lyduschka returned Thursday, April 25, they were able to verify that the fire was roughly 30 years old.
The group’s teacher, Professor D. Whitford Prufrock, spoke highly of his students' project, stating: “That’s really what archaeology is all about: going into an area that people think is all cleaned out and finding something revolutionary. While I did say at first that Wheatley may not be the most interesting place to dig, I will admit that I was totally wrong.”
A colleague of Prufrock’s in the anthropology department also commended on Sperri and Lyduschka’s finding, stating that “this is probably the most important discovery at UMass Boston since that old Mayan calendar predicting that the Science Center would be demolished in 2012.”
The President of the UMass Boston Historical Society, Grace Fitzgerald, spoke of the potential impact of this discovery in an article she wrote for a school publication that you’ve never read. “We cannot overlook the momentous implications this fire has regarding the history of our school as we know it. We have long suspected that Wheatley must be one of the oldest buildings on campus because of its archaic design and the fact that nobody likes it, and so discovering a fire like this in such an old structure proves that the school itself must be at least 30 years old.” This is much older than many freshmen speculate.
Following Fitzgerald’s article, Carl Raymondson of the Beaconian Society of Asiatic and Non-Asiatic Folk Studies wrote another piece for the same publication, in which he proposed that “this fire is probably the real-world phenomenon that sparked the long-standing student folk legend that Wheatley, as a building, sucks.”
Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman even elected to speak about the fire, when she released an official statement, saying “everyone thinks [UMass] Amherst is sooo (sic) much better because their buildings are nicer and more historic, but if they’re so great, where’s their big fire?”
Newman later agreed to give an interview with The Mass Media reporters, where she told The Mass Media, “I wish the Globe would write articles about things like this, positive stuff, instead of just printing articles about things we’ve ‘done wrong.’ ”
As of the publication of this article, Sperri and Lyduschka have not yet received grades for their project, but they both are expected to get B+s.