By Jamie Reese, News Editor of the Stroud Courier and student at East Stroudsburg University
East Stroudsburg University’s Theatre Department recently presented “Lord of the Flies,” an adaptation of William Golding’s famous novel about a group of boys who are stranded on an island after a plane crash and forced to set up a society.
The boys start out united; however, there are power struggles, lapses in communication, and poor planning. Eventually two factions are created.
One faction follows Jack, the boy who most strongly seeks power and created the split, while the other follows Ralph, the original leader and main protagonist.
The groups of Jack and Ralph enter a pseudo war.
Jack carries the spears and the willingness to kill, so Jack carries the power.
About midway through the performance, Jack forces the boys to dance around a fire in celebration of their killing of a pig.
Although some boys reject Jack—through his state of power, fits of rage and the sensationalism of the moment—he convinces mostly everyone to join in the ritual.
When one boy, Simon, comes out of the woods, the gang forces him to the ground and brutally stabs him with spears.
Jack thinks he’s doing right by the group by demanding command, but all the while he pushes forward his own faulty agendas without truly listening to anyone else.
At ESU, the administration has moved forward with plans of retrenchment in a similar fashion.
Though no one is being forced to the ground and stabbed, they are being ignored by the administration and in some cases, fired.
One character arguably in Ralph’s faction, Piggy, is the voice of reason, but because of his stature in this society, he is put down by Jack for reasons irrelevant to main issues and Piggy’s arguments are ignored. Ralph sides with and tries to protect Piggy, but ultimately that is not enough.
In a final confrontation between the factions, Piggy is pushed off a cliff and falls to his death. Jack’s group then chases after Ralph with the intent to kill, and under false stipulations that Ralph is connected to a made-up monster. The argument is Ralph must die for the sake of the other boys, like Piggy has already done.
Consider Ralph’s faction as the professors and students, and the administration and its followers to be Jack’s faction. While Ralph kept trying to make things better, every time his group made an objection, spears were pointed their way by Jack. Of course the Union won’t collaborate with the Administration, because they have spears pointed at them.
We have this made-up-monster of a debt problem being used as an excuse to fire our faculty, and we’re expected to accept that and join the mob? At the core of every idea of a monster, there is always some reality. For the boys on the island, it was animals and other creatures in darkness, as well as a dead body from the plane crash. At ESU, there are financial difficulties, but we should not confuse difficulties with impossibilities. As well, we should not use the idea of a monster to throw people off of cliffs.
In a recent University-wide Senate meeting, Provost Dr. Van Reidhead said that the reason ESU has seen declines while other PASSHE institutions have seen successes is because of our lack of collaboration.
It’s easy to blame collaboration, but the issue is much more complex than that, and he failed to attribute the lack of collaboration to anything or anyone tangible.
This inability to “collaborate” is a structural deficiency situated inside the very fabric of the university administrators, and there needs to be a change or else there is no room for progress.
When you claim to represent students, why don’t you represent the whole body of students? How many students on the school website aren’t Orientation Leaders or Student Senators?
Bogdan Niemoczynski, a physics graduate of 2013, interned with NASA last summer. Why wasn’t he on ESU Insider?
There’s also the constant argument that a Union’s purpose is to serve the Union. Well did anyone making that claim ever stop to think about what would happen to the Union if the University fails?
What about tenure? Professors work toward it because they want to stay here. And what kind of professors will we attract in the future? With these very public breaches of tenure, what kind of professors will be willing to sign a contract with ESU?
Why might retrenchment be counterintuitive? If it makes the school look bad, it will not help with student retention or public relations, thus lowering enrollment and negating any money saved through retrenchment.
When I told friends I was going to East Stroudsburg University, many asked me why. My friends weren’t asking out of curiosity, but rather, they wanted to know why someone with my grades and track record was going to what they considered a bad school.
I couldn’t tell them because I was poor, so I made things up, and I was clear to point out some of the excellent academics at ESU.
After coming here, I found great professors. But now that I see the atmosphere caused by the poor decisions of administration and the board of governors, I question whether I can learn to my full extent.
When I see the best things that ESU has, the professors and core programs, being threatened, I question whether or not my friends were right.
I’ve found myself in a state where I question whether or not I can remain an advocate of ESU if mass retrenchment occurs, because I don’t want to be responsible for overlooking the failures of an administration that does not put its students or its faculty first.
On a final note, let me tell you the ending to “Lord of the Flies.” In his final attempt to find and kill Ralph, Jack orders the boys to burn down the island—hopefully this won’t happen to ESU.
This opinion piece was originally published in the Stroud Courier. It is reprinted here with permission.