Thistles and Thorns

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 and general community at large; thorns go to those that have negatively impacted the community.

A thistle to Student Dormitory Council (SDC) for ending top competitor Pi Kappa Alpha’s (PiKA’s) seven-year winning streak in Buggy and for setting a new course record of 2:03.30. Following the course records set last year, more spectators came out to the races, and more are sure to come next year following this year’s upset on the part of an independent organization.

A thorn to University Health Services and Healthy Campus 2010 for continuing their possibly well-intentioned but badly planned giant poster-based campaign to rid the campus of any soul who wants to light up. We couldn’t even enforce the old policy, and the new policy looks like a difficult connect-the-dots puzzle.

A thistle to Jared Itkowitz and Pooja Godbole for campaigning on an incredibly ambitious platform and largely sticking to it this year as Student Body President and Vice-President. Their efforts have brought large numbers of new fans to Tartans sport events, and Jared and Pooja themselves have been active in a multitude of on-campus events despite their own busy schedules and behind-the-scenes work running student government.

A thorn to Pittsburgh burglars and armed robbers. The East Campus Garage is meant to be safe, and the things in our cars are meant to stay in our cars. We don’t appreciate armed robbery. It’s scary. So please stop bothering Carnegie Mellon students, or else we will pick up this campus and move it to somewhere warmer (Qatar?).

A thistle to Hunt Library and the Maggie Murph Cafe for staying open through the night during the school week. We know we’re not the only ones who need a caffeine fix and crave those bagels at 4 in the morning.

A thorn to the AIG executives who spent more money than The Tartan makes in four years on a weekend trip to an extremely exclusive resort in California. That said, we will accept bailout money for spa trips.

A thistle to the Get In Line Games, Evil Genius Designs, and cmuTV for representing the cutting-edge technology innovated and elaborated upon at Carnegie Mellon by presenting multiple interactive games at Carnival, as well as the Jumbotron used to watch the Buggy races during Sweepstakes. More people were able to watch more of the races from a single spot on the course, encouraging more spectatorship and interest in Buggy and thus the rest of Carnival.

A thistle to the university for its B There capital campaign. While the economy might not be in the best shape for a private university to earn some extra money, the school addressed the very practical issue of increasing our disproportionately low endowment through creative, cohesive marketing efforts and inviting alumni to schmooze together in a sweet tent complete with music, drinking, and fireworks.

And with that, a thistle to President Jared Cohon for encouraging and maintaining more transparency between the administration and the student body than we’ve seen during our tenures at Carnegie Mellon. In these tough economic times, it would be too easy to hole up and quietly, quickly reduce expenditures, but President Cohon has been communicative and has encouraged feedback from all of us as to how to take the university into the coming years in a responsible manner.

A thorn to the B There stickers. They were clever for a day, and then they were just everywhere. While we suppose that is how advertising works, we are scared of coming back to campus in the fall and having every last inch of concrete covered in stickers for every frat, club, and guy on campus with 20 bucks.

A thistle to Facebook for being responsive to its users. After a change in their terms of use was made that would potentially keep and publicize users’ personal information, Facebookers united and told the company how this displeased them — by posting on the social networking site itself, to boot. Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook’s head honchos buckled down and quickly returned the terms of use to their original version, putting their users’ concerns first.

A thorn to Westridge Investment for making a difficult economic situation that much more complicated. We aren’t going to blame the administration; they couldn’t have known that a teddy bear would steal 49 million of our dollars. The economy is bad, and we need that money for financial aid. Now give it back.

A thistle to the Pittsburgh Steelers for being the best football team in the world and for making us proud to say we live in Sixburgh. Also, kudos to Mayor Luke for briefly changing his name to Steelerstahl, showing what a significant part of the city’s culture this sports team truly is.

A thorn to Carnegie Mellon’s wireless Internet being so flaky this year. Oh, and the electricity too. Can we keep the campus turned on? Thanks.
A thistle to Carnegie Mellon Housing and Dining for selecting a new on-campus food service provider with a focus on student input. After all, we’re the ones eating the personal pizzas and french fries — shouldn’t we be able to have a say in how, and by whom, they’re prepared?

A thorn to the Heinz College for not keeping its faculty in line. Making drunk driving a hobby and offering extra-super-bonus-credits for the low, low price of who knows what is not characteristic of the award-winning, grant-writing faculty we expect here at Carnegie Mellon. We wish you a better, less... interesting 2010.

A thistle to the committee heading up the search for a new dean of Student Affairs following Dean Church’s departure last year. We agree that it’s important to look for potential leaders that come from outside of the established university community, and are still hoping for someone as involved and knowledgeable as the former dean.

A thorn to the restraints on “Walking to the Sky.” Who are you, Carnegie Mellon administration? To be scared of the vibrations we are creating across campus, to be afraid of our harmonic motion, to break our will, suspending us with cables to concrete anchors? We will continue to work toward our dreams of walking up that giant pole.

A thistle to the city of Pittsburgh for being ahead of the game looking to elevate Pittsburgh to the level of other health-conscious, contemporary urban centers by aiming to ban smoking in restaurants and other public venues before the rest of the state. To remind the nation that we’ve evolved past our days as the Iron City, and are as progressive as the sustainability center of Portland, we must be as clean and current as it as well.

A thorn to Juicy Campus for shutting down because of a bad economy. Dear JC: We miss you and totally saw someone doing something we can’t write here but want to post anonymously so that everyone can laugh at them. Come back. Love, The EB.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon-Qatar for completing its new building in accordance with new design standards and a nod to the hopeful expansion of the campus’s small 150-person student body. Next up: The Fence for our sister campus. We’re thinking something electronic.

A thorn to the people who painted the tree next to the Fence. Did that tree ever paint you or pour paint into your lungs? Trees breathe through their bark — they need it to not be covered with your gang symbols and love. So keep it off the tree.