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 Mattel’s newly released computer engineer Barbie. We appreciate that the company is breaking the stereotype associated with the iconic doll.

A thorn for lack of government funding for the Port Authority. The transit agency already made a 15 percent service cut last month in order to curb its reliance on supplemental funding scraped together year by year by the county and the state. The Port Authority’s living from hand to mouth cannot go on forever. It is up to the county and state governments to find stable, long-term, and adequate funding for public transportation.

A thistle for major companies and productions’ involvement in Pittsburgh. It’s exciting that Pittsburgh is an up-and-coming city, and we are glad that companies like Disney and Google are here. We are also excited that Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Dark Knight Rises are being produced here this summer, bringing even more jobs and prestige to our city.

A thorn to the United States Congress for almost causing a government shut-down because of partisan bickering.

A thistle to Rebecca Black. “Friday” may be an annoying song, but the millions of dollars she made off it were all donated to Japan. She could have easily kept all that money for herself, but she chose to donate it to a good cause.

A thorn to the students who defaced the Fence. We are disappointed with the damage they caused to a widely cherished campus symbol and their disregard for campus pride.

A thistle to the Carnegie Mellon community for coming together and bonding after the attack on the Fence. Although it was a sad occurrence, students and alumni showed Tartan pride by uniting over a shared sense of tradition.

A thorn for Hunt Library and its new light installation. The lights are disruptive to students who are trying to use the library as a quiet place to concentrate on their studies.

A thistle to the School of Computer Science for opening the upper floors of the Gates Hillman Complex to card-carrying SCS undergraduates. Hiding professors, TAs, and work spaces behind locked doors after 6 p.m. is no way to foster learning and collaboration, and we are glad the SCS administration realized it.

A thorn to College ACB for filling the gap left after JuicyCampus shut down. Anonymity and freedom of speech does not mean people should debase or slander others online.

A thistle to students Joe Reilly and Sean Hoffman for reacting well to Saturday Night Live’s alleged “theft” of their creep dance. Their reaction was professional and appropriate.

A thorn to Four Loko, because caffeine and alcohol is not a good combination. This drink has dangerous side-effects for consumers; the caffeine counters and hides the effects of the alcohol. Four Loko does not encourage people to drink responsibly.

A thistle for Carnegie Mellon’s purchase of the Residence on Fifth. First-years in Oakland now have a central living community rather than being spread out in different apartment buildings. We also supports the further expansion of our campus into Oakland.

A thorn to the administration for its lack of communication regarding the construction of the IM soccer field last summer.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon’s faculty members for outstanding work and much-deserved awards. We appreciate the high standard of excellence that they set for students and the national prestige they bring to our campus.

A thorn for this year’s student government. Its failure to make any significant accomplishments and to communicate with the student body about its work is depressing for those of us who expected more from our student leaders.

A Plaid to the Bone thistle for alumni reunions being held at Carnival this year rather than at Homecoming in the fall. From a student perspective, this makes more sense because most young alumni identify much more strongly with Buggy, Booth, and the rest of the Carnival traditions. With so many alumni already back on campus for these activities, adding one more event to the program just makes sense.

A thorn to the election process for Student Senate. Candidates do not have to campaign to win; they only need their three closest friends to write them in on the day of the election. This is backward and should be changed, because the process as it is hardly reflects a true democratic system.
A thistle to the university’s dining services for steadily improving. Dining Services implemented longer hours during the week and better options for students. This is clear evidence that Dining Services has been listening to students’ concerns and suggestions. Additionally, there have been more Dining-sponsored activities for students, which is a great new initiative.

A thorn for on-campus eateries’ inconvenient hours over the weekend. Although dining services in general are improving, most individual eateries open late and close early on the weekends. This is not conducive to students’ busy and often irregular work and sleep schedules.

A thistle to The New York Times for its new online paywall system. Asking the newspaper’s heavy readership to pay for content again is a business move that, while somewhat inconvenient, will help sustain high-quality online journalism at a time of great uncertainty in the industry.

A thorn to the ghost of the Wean Hall bathroom. ISS workers repeatedly reported being harassed and frightened by a mysterious voice while cleaning the women’s bathroom on the sixth floor of Wean. We ask whoever is behind this to respect the men and women who work hard at keeping our campus clean. The charm of Moaning Myrtle doesn’t translate off the pages of Harry Potter.

A thistle to the people of the Middle East, specifically Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. Wanting to have a say in your own government and taking steps to do so shows great strength of will.

A thorn to the governments of the Middle East for suppressing, harming, and killing the citizens they are supposed to protect.

A thistle to the worldwide response to the disasters in Japan, as well as Carnegie Mellon’s local campus and community efforts to raise money, recruit volunteers, and spread a message of recovery.

A thorn for the Activities Board and its choice of Carnival comedian, Eddie Griffin, for ignoring the family and community aspects of Midway. Griffin disrespected Carnegie Mellon values and traditions by using profanity and vulgar content in his act that was completely inappropriate for the Carnival atmosphere.

A thistle for IBM and the company’s collaborative efforts with multiple universities, including Carnegie Mellon, to bring advanced technology to the public through the creation of the supercomputer Watson.