By Nathan Schmidt
This week, Fairfield professor Wilson Schumacher spoke out about an earlier, better era when Jesuit institutions were held to a higher work ethic. The lengthy tirade took place shortly after the recent cancellation of classes on March 4th due to snowfall throughout the night before. Schumacher, who is a full professor in the philosophy department, has worked at Fairfield University for more than thirty-five years, and was not afraid to say so repeatedly while describing the degradation of the Jesuit ideal.
Standing in front of a gaggle of onlookers in the lower level of the Barone Campus Center, an increasingly agitated Dr. Schumacher said, “It’s honestly appalling how far we’ve fallen these days from the original ideals of Jesuit work. You know, the Society of Jesus found its worldwide success on the idea that an unshakable work ethic was key to building character. You kids have no idea what it was like in those times. Do you know what they used to call ‘snow days’ back then? Nothing! There was literally no term for it, because it literally did not exist. And you can quote me on that, because that’s the proper usage of the word ‘literally.’”
“You went — to — class,” he added, thumping his fist into his palm for emphasis on each word. “You went to teach, you went to learn, whatever the job was. Unconditionally. I remember once in my first few years of teaching, we had a blizzard so forceful that trees were getting pulled up by the gusts of wind and dumped all the way over in the Long Island Sound. Do you know what we did? We dragged ourselves over to Canisius Hall on rope tethers, and we attended class. And when we got snowed in afterward, we just slid out through one of the second-story windows and swam through the snow below to get where we needed to go.”
Dr. Schumacher then went on to say, “And by the way, Canisius Hall? Back then it looked like a Catholic high school on the inside. We had linoleum floors, I kid you not. There were lockers all along the hallways. I don’t even know who used them or why. Those were the days. Not like now. Now you all just stare at your little, your little smartphones, and you don’t even wade through knee-deep slush to get to class in the morning. ‘Oh, professor Schumacher, what about the frostbite?’ Wear better boots! That’s how the Jesuits would have done it!”
After Dr. Schumacher had exhausted himself and left for some coffee upstairs, freshman student Clayton Jacobs ‘22 timidly approached the Stagnation reporter on site to talk about the event.
“I didn’t know Jesuits used to freeze themselves as an act of patience,” he said. “No, uh… panache. Fuck, I don’t know what the word is. Why are we all masochists? That’s the main point.”
Dr. Schumacher was later found upstairs in the Barone Campus Center, staring longingly at the portrait of John A. Barone and whispering to himself about the world that could have been.