Fire Strikes Main Hall

Corey Lehnert

Last Sunday night, between the hours of one and two a.m., a fire was started in the southwest corner of Main Hall. The blaze was fortunately spotted almost immediately, and was extinguished by the impeccable Appleton Fire Department before it could structurally damage Lawrence University’s landmark facility. The only portion of the building significantly marred was Hiram A. Jones Latin Library, Professor Daniel J. Taylor’s current office.
Initial discoveries at the scene of the fire led the investigators at the Appleton Police Department to believe the fire was set by an arson. “We found no faulty electrical wiring or gas heating, which suggests that the fire was intentional,” reported Police Chief Bruce Grady. “We also found an empty can of gasoline that was swung around in a circular motion, and a matchbook from an Italian restaurant.” Without any fingerprints at the scene of the crime, however, the authorities were stumped, until an anonymous informant claimed to have seen a person speed away from Main Hall on a Vespa shortly after the fire was set. “Right away,” said Grady, “I knew that we had our man.”
Professor Taylor was initially indignant when questioned by the police, but confessed when he was confronted with the evidence. According to the arresting officers, he waived his rights and was willing to discuss his motives. “Don’t get me wrong,” Taylor admitted, “Randall [McNeill] is a great guy. But he doesn’t deserve that office, and I’ll be damned if I let him have it.”
This academic year will be Professor Taylor’s last at the University, and it appears that he is unwilling to relinquish his coveted corner office on the first floor of Main Hall. The office, which doubles as the Classics Department’s library, is slated to be occupied by Assistant Professor of Classics Randall McNeill after Taylor’s departure. McNeill said, “I guess that I will occupy the office after this year, but I just haven’t thought about the matter. I have been really busy with the search for a new Classics professor. The office is not really important to me.”
McNeill’s casual approach to the office proves that he is unworthy to inhabit it, claims Taylor. The culprit ranted, “We’re talking about the Hiram A. Jones Library, by Jove! The man died teaching Latin, and Randall’s lackadaisical interest in carrying on his name is disgraceful.”
Taylor does not fault his own actions. “I’m a Lawrentian a capite ad calcem. I started and will finish my academic career here. Randall is a terrific classicist, but he spent his education cavorting around the Ivies, and clearly prefers artsy-fartsy poetry to the noble study of grammar. How can you expect him to follow in the footsteps of professors like the great Maurice P. Cunningham? As far as I’m concerned, it was my duty to burn down that room. I have no mens rea.”
President Jill Beck is saddened by Taylor’s actions, but believes that some good can come out of the affair. “Professor Taylor’s actions, while reproachable, do not detract from the years of service he has given to Lawrence,” Beck stated. “Besides, this fire allows us to renovate the office. I’m thinking of getting rid of those dreadful busts, and turning the room into a dance studio.

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