Born to be wild, faculty and staff hit open road

For many students, professors are merely perceived to be intellectually superior beings that only exist inside the classroom. While many of the social barriers between students and faculty and staff at the College have been torn down through professor lunch date programs and campus-wide events, the perception that College employees go home after class only to start working on crosswords and Rubik’s cubes persists on campus. But, maybe there is more to them than meets the eye. Maybe they have interesting lives outside of their work at the College. Maybe, just maybe, some College employees could be cool. Some even own (and use) one of the most consistently cool possessions: motorcycles.

At first glace, Dave Boyer, interim director of Campus Safety and Security, is an intimidating hulk of a man with a salt and pepper goatee. This was a good start. Everyone knows the only thing cooler than facial hair is motorcycles. For Boyer, the love for motorcycles has been a consistent passion since he climbed onto his parents’ motorcycles as a young child and visualized the open road. “When I was a young boy, right up to the age of six or seven, there was a motorcycle in my barn, and I used to jump up on top of it and just make noise, twist things that twisted and pushed buttons,” Boyer said.

Boyer currently owns a Harley Davidson and an antique Indian Motorcycle, both of which are awesome enough to make their owner at least a little bit cool by default. Unfortunately, Boyer was quick to write off his coolness level, saying, “I ride slow, I ride safely and I ride with my wife mostly.” Boyer argued that having a motorcycle is not something he does to be cool, but is instead part of his identity.

In the Office of Internet and Technology (OIT) is another staff member on campus who shares Boyer’s enthusiasm for motorcycles: Seth Rogers, director of desktop systems. An owner of a 1998 BMW, Rogers explained that he had ridden his bike more as a few years ago, but after his son was born, he has only been able to drive on the weekends. “A couple of years ago, it was pretty much every day in the summer,” Rogers said. “But my wife and I had a son four years ago, and, since then I’ve slowed down mainly because I have to pick him up from school and drop him off, and he is not quite old enough yet.”

When the conversation turned to the topic of a staff motorcycle gang, he denied their existence. “We all work with computers, so I don’t think we are tough enough,” Rogers said. However, Rogers did let slip that there were two more riders in OIT: Jim Lillie, equipment loan center coordinator, and Phil Remillard, media services specialist.

For Lillie, riding motorcycles started early in his life. “I’ve been riding since I was probably eight, so it has never been a cognizant decision for me. I have just always had a motorcycle,” Lillie said.

Remillard, the third member of the OIT motorcycle trifecta, is often described as the most hardcore motorcycle rider in the OIT. While Remillard confirmed that he would ride anytime there wasn’t snow or ice on the road, he, too, refused to acknowledge the existence of a staff motorcycle gang, saying that the OIT staff only periodically rode together. “As far as I know, there is nothing secretive going on, but it is not atypical for people to ride together,” Remillard said.

Cheryl Shanks, professor of political science and chair of legal studies, definitely registers high in the cool department as an avid motorcyclist. According to Shanks, her motorcycling habit began when a bus strike eliminated her means of commuting to school. “During my second year of college, I was living off campus in Santa Cruz, California, and off campus was substantially away from campus. There was a bus strike, so I had to find a way to get myself to class, and I couldn’t afford a car. So, I got a motorcycle,” Shanks said. Now a proud owner of a Moto Guzzi, Shanks explained that she only rides now in nice weather and if she decides to forgo an afternoon of gardening and hiking. “My motorcycle is the only thing I have ever owned that makes me happy,” she said as she reminisced about good times “flying on the motorcycle, feeling joy.”

While these College professors and staff members may not ride together or belong to a motorcycle gang, they definitely share the same passion for their motorcycles. Though it is clear that these motorcycle enthusiasts deny that merely owning a motorcycle makes them cool, at least it is now evident that there more to the leisure times in their lives than crossword puzzles and Rubik’s cubes.

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