College may be a demanding environment full of soul-crushing pressure and vindictive administrators, but rarely does it descend to actual, whip-crack slave labor.
Well, it came mighty close for the scholarship students placed under the dominion of ex-dean Cecilia Chang of St. John’s University in Queens. The New York Times says that the administrator — who’s already battling accusations of embezzling $1 million from the school — would force students to perform such un-scholarly tasks such as cooking and cleaning her home, and performing bizarre errands. If a student were to refuse, the Times reports, Dean Chang would see to it that their scholarships were revoked.
According to the prosecuting attorneys, Ms. Chang forced students to perform the following tasks: drive her son to the airport at 3:00 a.m., drive the dean to the hair salon and restaurants, take out the garbage at her home, shovel snow, and even deliver cash to her at a casino. This cash, it was later revealed, was part of the funds she took from the university.
St. John’s, already washing its hands of the news about Chang’s embezzlement, is now trying to condemn her actions as very unlike those of most of the university’s administration and faculty. “If these allegations by federal authorities are true,” the Times quoted Dominic Scianna, a spokesman for St. John’s, as saying in a statement. “Ms. Chang’s treatment of some students and the environment she created are shocking and in complete violation of all this university stands for.”
Although the school’s condemnation will come as a relief to future students, potential academics or administrators considering St. John’s should heed the warning: they will not, in fact, receive gambling money and a team of personal assistants upon arrival.