By Nathan Schmidt
The time has come for students to rejoice! For more than a year, the Barone Campus Center has stood in the shadow of the ominous marble statue of Pope Francis, an icon of the Talking Statue project and a terror to students across the university. But this week, just one day after the most important conviction of the #MeToo movement, the statue has finally been removed.
On Monday, Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape and a felony sex crime, a jury verdict that serves as a symbolic vindication of the years-long struggle to recognize the exploitation of women by men in the media industry. The repercussions of the verdict were felt far and wide, with dangerous figures everywhere feeling the pressure of the new precedent for justice. And among these ripple effects, the next morning at Fairfield University, the statue of the Pope was found face-down wrapped in plastic and strapped to a wooden pallet.
“If I were Pope Francis, I’d be happy no one had to see that likeness of me anymore,” said Tom Hillanobin ‘20, who has been at Fairfield long enough to remember the blissful years before the statue ever arrived. “But the truth is, in order to get rid of the most insidious offenders in our midst, we have to listen to the people who are affected. And the Weinstein verdict might well be the wake-up call our nation needs to recognize when something is just plain wrong.”
The Pope Francis statue was easily the creepiest of its kind on campus for its entire stay, outshining the bizarre Standing Couple statue and the infamous bronze stag statue easily. Sources have confirmed that more than half of the written entries by students placed into the hollow pedestal of the statue (hence the “talking statue” idea) consisted of complaints that the marble Pope’s eyes seemed to be following them across the room. But until this week, there was no end in sight to the reign of terror. Thanks to the verdict on Weinstein and its social impact, everything has changed literally overnight.
Now that the statue is gone, there is no telling what will take its place, but the odds are not zero that the replacement will be similarly creepy, like the mysterious circumstances around the death of Jeffrey Epstein. And the future whereabouts of the marble figure, furthermore, remain unknown. As with everywhere else in the country, the very real struggle embodied by the #MeToo movement may never end.