Thorns and thistles

At the close of every year, The Tartan reassesses the year’s events. We present here a list of the people and happenings that are worthy of recognition. Thistles go to people and events that had a positive effect on the campus community; thorns go to those that have negatively impacted the campus.

A thistle to the Port Authority for biting the bullet and keeping the 28X. Call us lazy or stingy, but we’re elated that the 28X bus route will be sticking around to shuttle us to and from the airport. If only the Pittsburgh Port Authority would figure out a permanent solution to its persistent budget issues and quit crying wolf about cutting the Airport Flyer once a year, we could really breathe easy.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon’s growing global empire. With programs in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Doha, Athens, Kobe, Adelaide, and more to come, Carnegie Mellon is priming itself to become a gold standard in international higher education.

A thorn to Karl, Andrea, and anyone who put a dime towards the campus bikes program. Karl and Andrea take a poke for championing the ludicrous idea, but the many funders of the program deserve a thorny stab for pissing away thousands of dollars so frivolously.

A thistle to Google for adding sweet, brightly colored offices right on our campus. While walking to school in dreary Pittsburgh weather, it’s nice to be able to see neon blue couches and chairs from the street. Google Pittsburgh: We’re feeling lucky.

A thorn to university officials’ reaction to the campus bomb scare. Only two days after the tragedy at Virginia Tech — where school administrators were accused of failing to alert students of the first campus shooting — Carnegie Mellon officials decided that “mum” was the word when it came to alerting students about the bomb scare. Some sound advice: When a portion of a main road (Forbes Avenue) that runs right next to an event packed with students and community members (Carnival’s Midway) has to be shut down because of a violent threat (bomb scare), you should probably alert your students about it before you talk to the local media.

A thorn to Carnival Committee for laziness. If the Carnival Committee was going to steal the theme from 2001, they could have at least put some effort into creating a better logo. Not only was the ladybug not really magnified under the magnifying glass, but you could see the brushmark where the artist made a mistake. Lame.

A thistle to AB for bringing us Demetri Martin over Spring Carnival. He’s well-known, hilarious, and he carries around a giant pad of paper. Plus, his adorably dorky style of comedy was a perfect fit for his audience.

A thorn to the elections committee for delivering the most monumental debacle in recent elections history. After failing to make information and paperwork available to candidates (major failure #1), the Elections Board pushed back the vote until the week after Carnival (major failure #2), only to have the voting system disenfrachise a huge portion of the population (super major failure #3). Save us from our student government!

A thistle to Housing and Dining Services for pulling gender politics on campus out of the time warp it had been in. We’re glad the university finally got with the times and introduced a co-ed housing pilot program for the next academic year.

A thorn to Housing for stacking bunkbeds in Morewood lounges. What better way to make newly arriving first-years feel welcome than to house them en masse? Lease more apartments in Oakland, rent more rooms at the Wyndham, or admit fewer students — whatever you have to do to get students out of lounges.

A thorn to AB and SDC for leaving us high and dry in our last week of classes. Term papers are piling up, and we could all stand to take a two-hour break from our problems in McConomy. Also: Thanks for teasing us with great films like Blue Velvet, only to cancel the show the night of.

A thistle to comedy, drama, and romance. Even if the three come in the form of the Hollywood movie Smart People, we will still have our name attached to the entertainment trifecta. And who minds having Sarah Jessica Parker and Dennis Quaid roaming campus?

A thistle to the Controversial Speakers Policy Committee for preserving the spirit of one of our campus’s most important policies. Thanks for seeking out feedback from students and faculty through town hall meetings, sessions with campus organizations, and e-mail surveys.

A thorn to readme for being offensive enough to make it on the local news. We agree, the housing shortage was a nightmare (see above) but there are certain things you just don’t joke about. As The Tartan strives to remain an appropriate media outlet on campus, we urge you to do the same.

A thistle to the market economy for bringing us some of the nation’s most tastiest food. Pierogies and sandwiches loaded with coleslaw and fries are part of Pittsburgh’s unpretentious charm, but we must extend a hearty welcome to recent culinary additions to our blue collar city. Hooray for Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, and cupcakeries.

Another thistle to Housing and Dining Services for kicking its culinary offerings up a notch. The burgers are fantastic at the Sequoia Grill, and you can’t beat the convenience of the Carnegie Mellon Café and Maggie Murph Café. Also, the Tartan cookie: Delicious. Who knew plaid could taste this good?

A thorn to Blockbuster for all but leaving Oakland. All we want to do is give you money so we don’t have to download movies illegally or watch them downstairs in the basement of the library — help us help you (to help us)! Come back to Forbes Avenue; Baum Boulevard is not nearly as accessible.

A thistle to whoever finally got their act together and redesigned Carnegie Mellon’s website. Now we just need some consistency across the individual colleges’ websites.

A thorn to misrepresentation and poor fact checking. Our school regularly rocks the charts, so it was a surprise to see U.S. News & World Report place our electrical engineering program at spot 126. The erroneous ranking bumped Carnegie Mellon’s electrical engineering department 117 places from our rightful spot at number nine.

A thistle to the library staff for taking an interest in student feedback and actually doing something about it. They already added a late-night food and coffee spot, and they’ll add more power outlets in the coming months.

A final congratulatory thistle to the scheming “Walking to the Sky” pranksters. Form really follows function with this piece of public “art.” The two giant snowballs placed at the base of the towering phallic symbol this winter and the dummy hanging from the top of the pole were both entertaining displays that stuck it to the man. That’s what we call true artistic vision. Cheers.