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Thistles & Thorns

At the close of every school 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 Bill Dietrich. His posthumous donation of $265 million, in honor of his mother, is both generous and touching. We are honored to be a part of the Dietrich family legacy.

A thorn for the announcement of Carnegie Mellon’s Rwanda campus. Rwanda is a country with a history filled with violence, genocide, and infringements on free speech (to name a few). Carnegie Mellon stands for none of those things on its Pittsburgh campus, and administrators should have held public discussions before entering into this partnership.

A thistle for Pittsburgh’s growing film industry. High-profile movies in production, such as The Dark Knight Rises, brought some much-deserved attention to Pittsburgh’s great qualities. Moreover, movie filming means a boost to the city’s economy.

A thorn for the announcement of more Port Authority bus route cuts. The proposed cuts would greatly affect students and Pittsburgh’s transit users. Measures must be taken to ensure that transportation to important locations is available to students.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon’s very own Quidditch team, the CMU Marauders. The sport has been a growing trend on college campuses, and it is great to finally have a team at Carnegie Mellon.

A thorn for tuition increases. Even though we met our $1 billion Inspire Innovation campaign goal, tuition still increased for next year. The fact that Carnegie Mellon has received $1 billion. Yet students are still asked to pay an even greater amount of money is preposterous. Carnegie Mellon is already one of the top 10 most expensive schools in the United States, a title we shouldn’t be proud of.

A thistle to AB Concerts and Shows for their choice of entertainers for Spring Carnival 2012. Attracting headliners such as comedians Streeter Seidell and Nick Offerman — as well as musical performer Passion Pit — truly livened up Spring Carnival and enticed students to attend the shows. Hopefully Activities Board can get equally entertaining performers for future Spring Carnival concerts and shows.

A thorn to Mark Zuckerberg. His stop at Carnegie Mellon last semester was exciting, but the fact that the talk was limited to students with technical majors — and that it allowed for no direct media or press coverage — was directly opposed to his goal of creating a more open flow of information.

A thistle to this year’s student body president candidates. This year’s (SBP) elections had an unprecedented five tickets. This shows how many students care about student government and want to have a voice in the university system. The tickets each brought their own ideas and showed how diverse our school is.

A thorn for the bomb threats at the University of Pittsburgh this semester. The threats were extremely disruptive, forcing professors at Pitt to cancel classes and frustrating students to the point where they moved off campus. We hope that the threats will not continue next semester and that the perpetrator(s) of these threats will be prosecuted.

A thistle to the University of Pittsburgh Police Department, the Carnegie Mellon University Police, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for their service this semester. During these trying times, their work has helped keep students and faculty safe. Our deepest gratitude goes out to them.

A thorn for the Facebook Timeline update. Facebook has undergone many changes over the past year, not all of them good. With its cover photo and confusing format, Timeline is conducive to stalking but not much else.

A thistle for the new Student Information Online (SIO) integration with Online Registration. This enhanced interface has been very helpful. The new SIO improves planning course schedules, and it looks much nicer than the old system.

A thorn for SIO’s lack of stress testing before registration. When every student has to use the same method to register for classes, failing to ensure that the system can handle the traffic is unacceptable, especially for a renowned computer science school like Carnegie Mellon.

A thistle for the Occupy movement. The motion showed a level of interest and activism in the current state of the country that, regardless of one’s political views, is admirable and preferable to rampant apathy.

A thorn for the Kiva Han and Waffle Shop closings. Their absence is devastating not only for the decrease in delicious food, but also because it marks the downfall of the local shops. Small businesses serving hyperlocal constituents seem to have no place in Pittsburgh — Kiva Han is being replaced by a larger chain restaurant, the Bagel Factory.

A thistle for Carnegie Mellon’s efforts to run entirely on wind-generated power in 2012. Green measures such as wind power may be more expensive, but they are worth it in consideration of the environmental impact.

A thorn to Pennsylvania State University for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Universities must remember to always put the safety of their students and the general population before reputation.

A thistle for the announced revival of the critically acclaimed television series Arrested Development. The show will be starting up again with a full-length movie and a new 10-episode season in early 2013. Best of all, the show’s original characters will still be there, playing the roles we’ve come to know and love. Start practicing your chicken dance.

A thorn to the North Shore Connector. Its incredibly expensive construction under the Allegheny River seems wasteful in the City of Bridges.

A thistle for the student body president impeachment motion. While the need to call for a motion to impeach was saddening, it shows that Undergraduate Student Senate wanted to take a stand and ensure that student government was running properly. Senate members made a statement that a student government position is a real position of power, and not something to fill out a résumé.

A thorn to Google+. The social network has Hangouts, but no one to hang with. Beyond that, it integrated its ghost town into everyday search results, diluting the quality of its searches in a desperate attempt to get traction in the social networking sphere.

A thistle to the improved SquirrelMail. SquirrelMail has traditionally been so bad that Carnegie Mellon’s naturally tech-savvy students have abandoned it in favor of email clients like Gmail. Here’s to SquirrelMail’s facelift and the eventual hope that it becomes even better.

A thorn to College Magazine for naming Carnegie Mellon the ninth-most hipster campus in the United States. At Carnegie Mellon, we don’t believe in labels.

A thistle to President Jared Cohon for his 15 years of service to Carnegie Mellon. Since we will be welcoming a new president in 2013, it seems fitting to thank him now for his work at this school and all the progress that has occurred under his leadership.