It seemed harmless at first. A piece of loose-leaf, folded four times over, slid under the door at 8:15 p.m. It went unnoticed until Samuel Cormier-Farley went to the bathroom. The top of the paper had his name and the note was addressed from a secret admirer who wished to meet him.
This began two trying months of criminal harassment. It was Cormier-Farley’s first week at St. Thomas University. He was living in Rigby Hall residence room 115.
The admirer didn’t show up that night, or the next time they were supposed to meet. Then the letters began to get disturbing.
“Those messages were extremely explicit. They were sexual, they were graphic and most importantly, they were taunting in a way.”
The anonymous tormentor always knew Cormier-Farley’s schedule, who he talked to, and what he was wearing.
“There were a lot of nights I stayed up.”
Farley also began to receive emails and posts on his Facebook wall from an anonymous account, which had his last name and a picture of him.
The police eventually got involved. Cormier-Farley was moved out of Rigby for a time, although he received one last message: “I know what you’re trying to do Samuel, and it isn’t going to work. You’re stuck with me and you’re stuck with me for good .”
The culprit was never found.
But Cormier-Farley never considered leaving Rigby for good. Other residents pulled him through the harassment and made him fall in love with the residence.
Along with the passing of Andrew Bartlett last year after a party that started in residence and the recent alcohol ban in Harrington, St. Thomas residences have been getting bad press. But Cormier-Farley exemplifies everything great about the residence experience: the camaraderie and the lasting friendships that are forged.
“I wasn’t alone. It was the bond we created here that brought me back.”
Cormier-Farley doesn’t know his actual birth date. He was born in Puebla, Mexico. He was abandoned at a Red Cross facility suffering from malnutrition. The nuns named him Samuel.
His adoptive parents had been on a waiting list since 1985. Before Cormier-Farley, they lost $20,000 to a fake adoption agency. He was flown to Quebec in 1989 when he was only four months old.
Farley attended English schools until his last year of high school, although he was raised bilingual. The resentment between those who went to English schools and those in French schools gave Cormier-Farley some enemies by association.
This contributed to why Cormier-Farley chose to leave the province for his post-secondary education.
“I wanted to get away from home. I didn’t have good friends and I had issues with a bit of the town. Some things hadn’t gone well so I wanted to get out.”
Cormier-Farley chose St. Thomas because it was the first school to accept him. He’s never looked back.
“They put me in Rigby and I never left since because I fell in love with the place.”
Everything in his room is organized and the floors are clean. He’s always clean-shaven and sporting a broad smile. In fact, Cormier-Farley seems to hug everyone he sees. He rarely drinks. And even when he does indulge, it’s never heavily.
He wears large glasses that accentuate his expressions. He’s never seen without them. Cormier-Farley’s voice is a loud and welcoming rumble. He never lets his small stature hold him back.
If anyone needs to talk, or needs anything really, Cormier-Farley’s there to lend a hand. During the day his door is almost always open.
“I’m not someone who needs to be loved by everyone, but when someone hates me I want them to have the courage to come look [me] in my eyes and tell me, ‘I hate you for this reason.’”
Last year Cormier-Farley graduated with a major in criminology and a minor in Spanish, but he missed Rigby. He returned in January to get a few more credits.
“This house is my home. This house is where I want to be. Some people find I’m a bit crazy for wanting to stay here, but I don’t think they can understand how this house became my safe haven in my first year.”
He isn’t close with most of the freshmen yet, but he’s glad to see his old friends again.
“I’m extremely protective. I try to be present for everybody all at once, but at the same time I can’t be there for everybody all at once. It’s impossible. I’m not God, or Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny. I’m just one man.”
Still, whenever Cormier-Farley passes by a friend who looks down, he sends them an email to make sure they’re okay.
At the annual house dinner, Rigby’s president gives out awards. Cormier-Farley won the Heart of Gold award in his first year for being a good listener. He won the Justin Marshall award his second year for house spirit.
Cormier-Farley won the Lifetime Achievement award in his final year. House president Nicole Pozer gave a tearful speech, and Cormier-Farley couldn’t help but cry too.
Cormier-Farley doesn’t know if he’ll attend the awards ceremony this time, because he doesn’t want to tarnish the send off he was given last year. His Lifetime Achievement award has a proud spot on the desk of his new Rigby room.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It sounds a bit ridiculous for someone who doesn’t live in res, or doesn’t understand what it is to live in res. But for me, this house is basically everything I have.”
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