Cast the First Stone

Roughly 10 years ago, the prototypical St. John’s student might look into the future and conjure up several ideas that are now comical to us.

At that time, an NCAA Championship was within reach with the recruiting of former men’s basketball coach Fran Fraschilla and the talent of Felipe Lopez and Ron Artest. However, collegiate titles are hard to come by.

A decade ago, dorms and the atmosphere of a Residence Village could be attainable with the unused land on campus, but who knew that the University would change its image so drastically.

If you overheard someone talking about a campus stadium built for the nationally ranked St. John’s soccer team and a park for the baseball team, you probably would have said that it was a nice idea but where would it be put?

Large and small changes happen all the time, but these alterations have transformed what we today know as St. John’s University.

We now use the abbreviation “STJ” instead of “SJU” and call our team the Red Storm instead of the Redmen. The basketball team is probably a few years away from an NCAA title (yes, I am being kind), and the Residence Village is a reality along with Belson Stadium and the Ballpark at St. John’s.

Could our predecessors have predicted this turn of events? Probably not considering that many world-renowned “experts” have been so horribly off.

Allow me to explain.

The following facts were compiled in the Oct. 3, 2004 issue of TIME magazine.

– Albert Einstein remarked in 1932 that “there is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable.”

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt once predicted, as assistant secretary of the Navy, that airplanes would never be useful in battle against a fleet of ships.

– “Everything that can be invented, has been invented,” announced Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patents Office, in 1899.

– Famed American actor Gary Cooper turned down the Rhett Butler role in Gone with the Wind, and is rumored to have remarked, “I’m just glad it will be Clark Gable who’s falling flat on his face and not Gary Cooper.”

With what we know now, all these assertions seem to be utterly ridiculous.

Can predicting the future be so difficult?

I personally find it relatively easy to forecast certain St. John’s accomplishments within the next decade.

A new Student Union will be built in the area currently holding the Celtic cross directly off the Great Lawn. The new building will allow the University Center to be completely renovated and vacated for other purposes and will be built after substantial donations from alumni John Franco, Rich Aurilia, Frank Viola, Mark Jackson, Chris Mullin, and yes, Craig Hansen.

Mario Cuomo, the former Governor of the state of New York and a St. John’s alumnus, will speak at a University function, in spite of his pro-choice stance.

The University will realize that the parking situation is horrendous at St. John’s, primarily during the hours of morning classes. With this in mind they will provide an incentive for students to take later classes, a cheaper parking permit that is only good from the hours of 3 p.m. to midnight.

All of this makes perfect sense to me, so much sense that I am emboldened to offer more predictions. Within 25 years, St. John’s University will achieve the following accomplishments:

The library and the academic buildings of the University will be completely renovated. The response from students will be unanimously positive and the applications to St. John’s will grow exponentially along with the rate of retention.

Norm Roberts will bring St. John’s to 10 NCAA Tournaments, reach the Final Four three times and bring home one national championship. Because of this overwhelming success, the University will bring back the football team and ask Roberts to serve as interim coach until one has been found.

While repairing a faulty steam pipe on the Great Lawn, a maintenance worker strikes oil and the University immediately begins to drill and sell the natural resource. The oil rig in the middle of campus is explained away as a necessary evil so that tuition can be substantially lowered. Though the Earth Club protests, St. John’s becomes the first oil-rigged campus in America.

Believe me, this gets easier as you go. My clairvoyance has extended into 2055, a year where most of the University’s present students will be in their seventies.

With the influx of capital, St. John’s decides to build more gazebo-like structures around the campus, similar to those seen outside Newman Hall today. It is revealed through aerial shots of the University that the gazebo-like structures are strategically placed to spell out THUNDER, the long lost mascot who disappeared after the Virginia Cavalier embarrassed him during the 2003 NIT.

The huge University coffers have also been used to transform St. John’s into the most technologically advanced university in Queens.

The University will also invest in teleportation devices that allow students to move between all the campuses of the university, which now number in the hundreds. The moon campus, located due west of the Sea of Tranquility replaces the Queens campus as the main headquarters of the University.

However, with all of the futuristic advances in technology, St. John’s has still been unable to manage climate control in Sullivan, Marillac, St. John, St. Augustine, and St. Albert Halls. The problem is attributed to a family of trolls that are said to live in the basements of the buildings.

It is entirely possible that some day, a student will unearth the archives of The Torch from the year 2005, read this column and see that one or more of these predictions has come true.

Though some are certainly more outlandish than others, the conjured dreams that I have put to paper can easily become reality, just like the Residence Village, and athletic stadiums did in the past 10 years.

College students by their very nature are dreamers, idealists, and maybe even optimists when they enter the University.

As a popular proverb states “the future is purchased by the present.” Perhaps now is the time to once again examine just what our future is.