`Abduction' by UFO fizzles
04/20/94 THE BOSTON GLOBE
EASTON -- The chairman of the foreign language department greeted students
in Klingon. An assistant dean scanned the heavens through a telescope. The
theme from "The Empire Strikes Back" blared across the Stonehill College
And physics professor Chet Raymo was ready, sifting through the contents of
his overnight bag (beer, Reese's Pieces, sperm sample, change of underwear) as
more than 200 Stonehill students waited for space aliens to abduct him at
Tragically, the aliens never showed, ignoring the challenge Raymo issued in
a recent Globe column on the newfound celebrity of John Mack, the Pulitzer
prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist whose latest book, "Abductions," attempts
to document the existence of extraterrestrial life.
A group of students wearing aluminum foil did wheel Raymo away in a
recycling bin, providing an appropriately odd conclusion to the weirdest event
on the Stonehill quad since Bianca Jagger received an honorary degree there in
But for the study-breaking spectators, many of whom had watched Mack on
"Oprah!" that day, the otherworldly snub was a bit disappointing.
"I guess this means the final won't be canceled," said Kristy Batchelder,
20, a junior enrolled in Raymo's popular class on The Universe.
For Raymo, who showed up for his close encounter wearing a propeller cap,
the UFO no-show was a vindication of sorts. In his April 11 column, he offered
to make his body available to the alien scientists Mack described in
"Abductions," provided they were willing to pick him up Monday at midnight. "I
doubt if anyone will show up to spirit me away -- but I'm prepared to be
astonished," he wrote.
Even without the guests of honor, the scene Monday night was astonishing.
John Golden, chairman of the foreign language department, kept shooting people
with a phaser gun. Gregory Shaw, a professor of religious studies, distributed
literature revealing that Raymo himself was an undercover alien. ("What a
perfect cover Raymo has established, teaching science in this sleepy New
Julie Spillane, a 21-year-old junior, showed up wearing antennae
fashioned out of a hairband, toilet paper, and glitter, and confessed that she
was originally from the planet Zeptor.
"It's one of those family secrets," said Spillane. "Sort of an if-I-tell-
you-I-have-to-kill-you kind of thing."
As midnight approached, Raymo chatted amiably with students, warning them
not to get too close to the incoming spaceship. But the only intruders to
arrive were 20-year-old engineering major Michael Paul of Worcester and his
five fellow Tin Man knockoffs, who noisily hauled Raymo back to their dorm.
"Ah, well," said Raymo, who shared his Reese's Pieces with his captors.
"Maybe next time."
Richard Grant, the assistant dean of academic services at Stonehill, was
responsible for much of the pre-abduction publicity on campus. He admitted he
was surprised that Raymo's invitation had gone unheeded, but insisted that
Mack's theories, detailed this week in Time Magazine, could still be valid.
"Gods don't respond to human challenges, and neither do aliens," he said.
"The issue is still open. Definitely open."
The aliens could not be reached for comment.
@ART CAPTION: Julie Spillane (left), who says she is originally from planet
Zeptor, and Molly McHugh wait -- in vain -- for space aliens to abduct
Stonehill professor Chet Raymo.