May 2 began a week of much activity on the Merced College campus. Diversity Week opened with several vendors and lots of activity in the main quad, from Oriental and Indian food, music and, of course, popcorn by none other than McDougal's Famous Kettlecorn.
However, the kicker to this year's diversity week was a two-weeklong fund-raiser for the Criminal Justice Club of Merced College: its first annual Jail and Bail Fundraiser. For two weeks before Diversity Week, students all over campus could nominate their "favorite" instructor to be arrested. That's right! Arrested.
Professor Bob Gregory is one of the advisers for the Criminal Justice Club and reported that "club members built a jail from PVC pipe," which was showcased in the quad next to their booth all week long. Votes were sold for $1 and bail was set at $40 in an effort to raise money for scholarships for Criminal Justice Club members and to fund their annual club trip to Alcatraz.
All those votes culminated in a tie, and Professors Bob Gregory (Criminal Justice) and Vince Piro (English) were arrested. They were charged with educational crimes, "fingerprinted, booked, mug shots taken -- the whole nine yards," Gregory reports, and then thrown into the small cell in the middle of the quad to flaunt their shame. The crowd jeered and pointed and "there was a whole lot of laughing" according to Gregory as he solemnly gave his statement to this reporter via telephone.
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Both detainees spent a whopping 20 minutes in "jail" then were released after posting bail. Gregory posted his own and when asked where he was when he was arrested, he stated, "I was in class, teaching, when campus police came in and arrested me."
According to Piro, "I was seated outside (the IAC Humanities building) when campus police arrived. They handcuffed me and I did not resist arrest, but went peacefully. I figured there was no sense fighting it. The officers were very gentle with me." As for bail, he said, "I gave my wife the money for bail, but she wouldn't bail me out! My students bailed me out though."
Robyn Piro, wife of Professor Piro and manager of the campus bookstore, confirmed the account. "Yes, he gave me the money to bail him out, but it was too much fun to watch him in there," she said. Robyn said that at one point, "I made a paper airplane, wrote 'break out' on it, and attached a paperclip to it and flew it into the cell." According to Robyn, the jail cell began to fall apart and the professor confirmed that "when the jail started to fall apart, I tried to climb out the hole to make my escape, but the officers stopped me."
Professors Gregory and Piro are definitely good sports and good friends, according to Piro, "It's a good thing too -- the cell was very small."
hARTSfest was the grand finale to this jam-packed week of activity on the Merced College campus the week of May 2.
After a year in the making, hARTSfest at Merced College came in with a flourish and rocked its way out with Roddy Jackson. The first annual hARTSfest has been deemed an enormous success. An estimated 1,500 people came out for the festivities. John Graulty, dean of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, called hARTsfest "an unmitigated success" as he thanked administration, steering committee members and volunteers for all their help to make hARTSfest a success.
The food was delicious, the bounce house a huge hit for the little ones, the lecture sessions were highly informative, the exhibits were beautiful and everyone who watched "Alice" got educated right along with her.
Now the last thing left for this semester, after finals week, is graduation. I am ready for graduation. I have my announcements, which are going out this week, and I have my cap and gown. I am getting my voice ready for the national anthem which I have been given the pleasure of singing at the commencement ceremony this year. That for me is the fitting end to this semester of blessings.
Kristi Wolf is a full-time secretary and student at Merced College, majoring in administrative office management, with aspirations of being a writer.