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

A thistle to Google for standing up for human rights and making the decision to reject the censorship of the Chinese government. We are glad the company is not putting profit ahead of its principles and the freedom of people across the globe.

A thorn to the G-20 protesters and the ensuing police response. Smashing the windows of Pamela’s and other local businesses doesn’t support any cause, and using rubber bullets, tear gas, and military-grade sonic weapons on students is excessive.

A thistle to the university for buying several pieces of land in Oakland over the last few years. Despite hard economic times, we are pleased to see that the university is still moving forward and developing plans for expanding to meet the needs of our growing campus community.

A thorn to the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger. In 2009, the Pittsburgh Steelers were national champions. This year, the team didn’t even make the playoffs. Even more disappointing than the team’s season, however, are the actions of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger has been in the news, not for football, but for allegations of sexual assault. We expect more from Big Ben.

A thistle to the campus community for hosting many events this semester. Each weekend is jam-packed with lectures, shows, movies, and more. We are excited to see student activities thriving and hope that this trend continues while increasing student involvement on campus.

A thorn to the sororities that used spray chalk during recruitment. This took a Carnegie Mellon tradition and abused it, making our campus sidewalks look like they had been defaced and not like they were advertising exciting student events. FMS employees should not have had to pressure wash the sidewalks prior to Bill Gates’ visit, or at all.

A thistle to the administration for taking Dean Karen Boyd’s resignation in stride and again working to find a qualified, committed, and beloved dean of Student Affairs while keeping the campus population informed.

A thorn to the position of dean of Student Affairs for not staying filled for longer than a year for the past three years. This is an important part of our campus community that should be filled by a candidate who will be with the university for many years.

A thistle to the 1000plus community service initiative for obtaining 1000 volunteers for the first time in its three-year history. 1000plus has increased the presence of community service on campus through the organization of a complicated and successful event. We hope they will continue to grow for years to come.

A thorn to the city of Pittsburgh for being woefully unprepared to deal with the blizzard this winter. Missing three days of class was a nice and certainly unexpected break, but it is not justified given the amount of snow. We believe the city should take up Carnegie Mellon’s offer to help them better prepare for any future snowfall.

A thistle to CulinArt and Dining Services for listening to students’ concerns about campus dining. We have seen a greater variety of eating options, and we appreciate the well-informed decision to keep the Downtown Deli in the UC Marketplace open until 8 p.m. and the opening of Tazza D’Oro in the Gates Center. We believe CulinArt had a great first year and remain excited to see what else they will do.

A thorn to the School of Computer Science for locking most of the Gates Hillman Complex to undergraduates after 6 p.m. and on weekends. This makes it harder for students to get to office hours, and it discourages collaboration among students and faculty.

A thistle to Vice Provost for Education Indira Nair for her dedication and commitment over her 32 years at Carnegie Mellon. We wish her the best in her retirement; she will be truly missed by the campus community. For more on Dr. Nair’s tenure at the university, see page A1.

A thorn to the Tepper School of Business and others behind the Ginger’s — ahem, The Exchange’s — redesign. We miss having enough space to sit and do not see the utility in the extra counter. We are happy, however, to see that the service and food have remained the same.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon Health Services for responding to the swine flu outbreak by helping students protect themselves. While the e-mails may have seemed excessive at times, keeping campus safe is clearly a priority. Regardless, the addition of hand sanitizer dispensers near every building exit is both useful and sensible.

A thorn to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his misguided tuition tax. Carnegie Mellon and other university students pay enough to come here without an added bill to cover Pittsburgh’s rampant budgetary failures.

A thistle to the campus and Pittsburgh university communities for working together on common projects. From protesting the tuition tax to supporting relief efforts in Haiti, Carnegie Mellon and our nearby schools made an impact in our local and global community.

A thorn to Student Senate for not convincing the student body that student government is important enough to be involved in. Many Senate seats went uncontested or vacant this year, and the campus response has seemingly been dismissive that these vacancies matter at all.

A thistle to the men’s soccer team for making it to NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in its history. We hope the campus community shows more recognition of our school’s athletic successes.

A thorn to the Buggy safety policy, which has a zero-tolerance approach but ambiguous guidelines. We agree that safety should not be compromised, but using unspecific terms like “near” places both teams and officials in difficult positions.

A thistle to Gina Casalegno for stepping up to run the Career and Professional Development Center and act as assistant dean of Student Affairs. We already miss her tremendously as a strong and capable leader of the Student Activities Office, and we thank her for serving as our adviser for several years.

A thorn to those responsible for spray painting chickens and setting them loose around campus. These acts of animal cruelty show a blatant lack of responsibility and embarrass the entire Carnegie Mellon community.