Friday, April 19—Three hundred and fifty-two University of Massachusetts Boston students voiced outrage after receiving identical emails from the Registrar, informing them that they are no longer welcome on campus. The email cited “improper use of school facilities, more specifically, the new sidewalk connecting the Clark Athletic Center and University Hall” as the reason for the students’ expulsion. The seemingly mild nature of the stated infraction as well as the sheer magnitude of this mass termination shocked students and faculty alike.
A group gathered outside of the Registrar’s office to voice their complaints early Monday morning. Among them was Heather Whitney, a senior communications major. “I just don’t understand what I did wrong,” said Whitney. “It’s a sidewalk. I walked on it.”
Also in the crowd was Justin Turner, a tenured professor in the psychology department. “I realize the signs say that the sidewalk is closed but come on. It’s paved. There are benches. The street lights work. Why shouldn’t I use it? And why did I receive this expulsion notice? I’m not even a student here. Does this mean I’m fired?”
Inside the Registrar’s office, chaos reigned. Papers littered the floor. Student employees struggled to keep the swarm of angry students and faculty at bay. No one was available (or willing) to answer questions expect for Daniel Murphy, Head of Public Works here at UMass Boston. Murphy eagerly welcomed The Mass Media into his office for an interview.
“I think they deserved it, the whole lot of them,” Murphy exclaimed as he pounded his fist on his desk. “They ain’t got no respect for Shelly.” Upon further questioning, it became clear that ‘Shelly’ is a nickname Murphy has assigned to the sidewalk between Clark and University Hall. When asked why students and faculty should be punished for using the clearly functional sidewalk, Murphy replied, “I was supposed to be her first walker. The closed signs were up because I wasn’t ready yet. The first time was supposed to be special. … There was going to be flowers and chocolate and a big ribbon. Then I find out she’s had all kinds of people walking on her! Hundreds of them tromping up and down her, tracking dirt on her nice smooth pavement, putting their greasy hands on her shiny new benches. That was supposed to be me!! Now, I’ll have to rip her out and start all over again.”
Our interview was cut short when police arrived and arrested Murphy for sending fraudulent emails from a university account. As he was dragged out in handcuffs, Murphy called over his shoulder, “Just don’t let them touch Tanya! She’s all I have left!” Murphy’s coworkers confirmed that ‘Tanya’ is the name Murphy uses to refer to the dirt pile adjacent to the sidewalk. They also confirmed ‘Tanya’ will still be here waiting for Murphy at the end of his three- to five-year sentence.