Flames of the Torch

Two weeks ago, the University was shocked by the news that a former St. John’s dean was being charged with over 200 counts ofcriminal embezzlement.

Here at the Torch, it disturbed us all that such a gross sum of University money had been stolen from one of its own, and that it took years for the administration to catch on.

That Wednesday, the story was featured on the New York Times homepage, as well as covered by all the major New York papers. We also ran a breaking news story on our website.

It was unfortunate that the biggest public news story out of St. John’s since the arrival of Steve Lavin last spring was of such a negative nature; we knew that this news was not only going to tarnish the school’s reputation, but cause hours of stress for those at St. John’s who work in public relations.

This week, the biggest surprise for us here at the Torch was the overwhelming amount of St. John’s students we talked to that still had no clue who Cecilia Chang even was.

Even after two weeks, these students had managed to conceal themselves from what was one of the biggest stories they may witness during their time as students; it shocked us that a story of this magnitude hadn’t yet registered with them.

As we began compiling student quotes and harvesting reactions from around the St. John’s community, many students continually looked at our reporters with confused faces. Still, we found it almost impossible to believe that students could be this ignorant to current events, especially events that involved an institution they pay thousands of dollars to.

In one respect, this may reveal a job well done by the University, who have undoubtedly done all they can to both support the investigation of Ms. Chang and simultaneously keep it as low profile as possible.

However, for students to remain uninformed on a story of this magnitude for this long demonstrates a general disregard for current events and an obliviousness that we feel is both disconcerting and troubling.

Furthermore, it provokes the issue of communication at St.John’s by illuminating just how disconnected this community can be at times.

While this issue proves that there are many students here who don’t properly inform themselves and seldom tap into sources of local news, it also reveals that the communication from the administration to the student body can be highly selective.

The student body would have benefited from a direct administrative address of the Cecelia Chang investigation; if nothing else, it would have ensured that more students were made aware of the issue at hand.

Understandably, this probably was not a topic that the University was rushing to share with its students; but there is a responsibility for strong communication, in good times and in bad.


It is unfortunate that this news did not reach more students than it did, and while this is not necessarily the administration’s fault we feel it raises a lesson for the future.