WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Workers remodeling a Wellesley College dormitory last week unearthed what was first thought to be the remains of a long-missing student, but was later determined to be the spine of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., who lived in the dorm while a Wellesley undergraduate.
"It was just lying there among some old term papers, a copy of Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, and a lava lamp made by someone who obviously failed shop class," said Tom Killaney, supervisor of the crew that made the amazing discovery.
Clinton, then Hillary Diane Rodham, attended Wellesley from 1966 to 1969. Her undergraduate years were a flurry of political activism and campus leadership, which saw her routinely challenge authority and rise to several prominent positions, including class president and head of the campus chapter of Students for the Non-Violent Overthrow of Parental Control -- Except Concerning Tuition Payments (SNVOPC-- ECTP).
As class president, Clinton gained national attention with her commencement speech to the Class of '69, in which she criticized Republican U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the previous speaker, for being too passive as a senator, evidently considered a controversial thing for a college student to say in 1969. But since that speech, her penchant for taking political risks has vanished.
"Something definitely happened to her between the time she graduated Wellesley and the time she finished Yale Law," said Judy Vale, a Wellesley classmate of Clinton's. "I mean besides her impassioned and yet ultimately fruitless three-year struggle to comprehend fully and with perfect understanding the philosophical teachings of Grand Funk Railroad drummer Don Brewer."
Jessica Humpfelter, another Wellesley classmate, said she, too, noticed a change in Clinton in the years following graduation.
"Hillary and I used to go shopping together in college, and she always picked what she liked, even if it was hideously unfashionable," Humpfelter said. "You've seen pictures of her from college; you know I'm not lying. Well, last time we went shopping, she asked the clerk for the most popular pant-suit, then after she tried it on she actually polled the women in the store to see if they liked it. She tried on six suits and ended up picking the one with the highest positive response among women in the store who were registered voters over the age of 34."
Scientists say the missing spine could explain why Sen. Clinton, during her presidential campaign, has refused to state firm positions on sensitive issues such as Social Security reform, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, and whether Taco Bell chalupas are crunchier or meltier.
"It could be the spine," said Dr. Umberto Chen, a spinal specialist in private practice. "Or it could be that she's just exceedingly duplicitous. I really couldn't say without running some tests."
Wellesley offered to return Clinton's spine, but has yet to hear back from the senator.
"We've been told by her campaign that she'll take it back if doing so polls above 60 percent," Wellesley spokeswoman Angie Boyleston said.
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