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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Beacon alum still all about UMass Boston—despite pleas from children

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Bianca Oppedisano
An illustration of a student in all Umass Boston merchandise. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

College can be the best four years of somebody’s life. So what does one do when that time runs out? Some simply move on, turning the page and parting with the old to find something new. They may look back fondly at their academic years, but simply view them as pleasant memories. Life goes on. Others…well, moving on isn’t for everyone.
Stephen Ring graduated from UMass Boston in 2008. He’s gone on to teach middle school and is well-respected by his peers. However, there is one thing about him that tends to rub people the wrong way.
“UMass Boston was like Disney World, Oz, Mount Olympus and TGI Friday’s all rolled into one. Best time of my life hands down,” he said in an interview. “If I had to rank the greatest things to ever happen to me, they would be the years at UMass Boston, the birth of my son and marrying my wife. Exactly in that order.”
Scrolling through his social media accounts, one is bombarded by blue and white images of the familiar beacon that has come to represent the university. There are pictures of him and his wife on campus showing their newborn child what Stephen refers to as his “mecca[RH1] [RH2] .” His son is dressed from head to toe in UMass Boston regalia, with the university’s logo and colors forming a colossus of school spirit that seem to swallow the young child up.
“Honestly, I’d prefer people who follow me online to see what my son is wearing rather than my son himself,” he proudly proclaimed. “UMass Boston is everything to me. My son…I could take him or leave him.”
When word of this article being written reached Mr. Ring’s students, they personally contacted us to add their perspective to the story. “He’s like, unhinged,” said Sophia. “He spent the entirety of our geometry class making us cheer for UMass Boston Hockey. We were begging him to teach us math, but he just refused.” Other students corroborated what Sophia said, with one stating that Mr. Ring gave a failing grade after they told him they wanted to go to school out of state instead of becoming a Beacon.
Stephen responded to these allegations bluntly: “Listen, teaching math is my life’s passion. Nobody can tell you otherwise. But I gotta be real, it takes a backseat to UMass Boston. Those are just my priorities, and let me tell you, they don’t take a backseat to any person, place, thing or noun. No siree Bob!”
Shortly after he said this, Stephen lost his job. “You’re telling me somebody can be fired from a school for loving education so dang much? That’s just plain wrong.” Tears started falling from his eyes, spreading the blue and white face paint he had on further down his face.
Along with affecting his economic stability, Stephen’s obsession with UMass Boston had started to interfere with his marriage. Mrs. Ring told us: “I always knew he had a thing for his college, and I get it! I’m certainly no stranger to nostalgia. Even after he showed me he had a tattoo of Bobby Beacon, I was cool with it. But…I found out he had another, secret UMass Boston-related tattoo. Then there was another one. And another one. And then there was the time I caught him trying to use our son as bait to catch the coyotes that were roaming campus. And who could forget the lighthouse he bought with all of our son’s savings that he legally named Bobby.”
Stephen’s behavior only continued to become more extreme with Mrs. Ring stating: “One day he directly stated that UMass Boston meant more to him than we could ever hope to. He specifically pointed at his own child at several points during his breakdown, as if he wanted to make sure what he was saying sunk in. Our son cried really hard that day. After I confronted him about that, he started going on about how I didn’t understand him and that I was out to sabotage the Beacons. He said I was a spy from some rival university. I don’t know what that meant, but I had a lot of time to figure it out, because he started leaving the house at night and disappearing for hours on end. He would just wander UMass Boston’s campus. I could only take so much.”
“She says, ‘who do you love more? Me, or a local college?’ I can’t lie to her, you know.” Stephen told me that as he was walking out of his house, luggage in hand. “So, I guess it’s off to the races for me. Who knows what I’ll find.” As his Uber came to pick him up—his wife kept the family car and was in the middle of scrubbing the blue and white paint off—Stephen gave me a gentle smile. There was a sincerity to it that truly broke my heart. It felt like I was watching a bird leave his flock for a life in the ocean. The poor soul couldn’t make it out there. Suddenly he jerked his body at me, pointed a finger gun and shouted, “For the times, baby!!!!”
No one has seen or heard from him since.

About the Contributors
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator