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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 departing University President Jared Cohon, for his 16 years of unfailing and loyal service to Carnegie Mellon. We at The Tartan wish him a happy retirement.

A thorn for the recent outbreaks of mass violence. Shootings and other tragedies across the nation, including those in Boston, Mass.; Aurora, Co.; and Newtown, Conn. have taken innocent lives and disrupted the daily peace that the average citizen should be afforded.

A thistle to Randall Munroe and his webcomic xkcd, which recognized that Carnegie Mellon has the best hash bashers as part of a competitive April Fools update.

A thorn for the U.S. Senate’s inability to pass even the most mild of gun control measures in the form of background checks, displaying more loyalty to gun lobbyists than to the safety of Americans.

A thistle to the Presidential Search Committee for finding Carnegie Mellon’s next university president, Subra Suresh. Suresh is an excellent scientist and administrator, and he will benefit the university greatly.

A thorn for Beta Theta Pi for being at the center of allegations involving the recording and sharing of sexually explicit recordings. Although the allegations have not yet been detailed or confirmed, the fact that both the national fraternity and the university have suspended the Carnegie Mellon chapter indicate that there is evidence of serious issues within the fraternity.

A thistle to both the residents of Boston and the Boston Police Department for their steadfastness and courage in the face of the recent Boston Marathon bombings.

A thorn for the administration for not updating the campus on the Beta Theta Pi allegations. The student body deserves to be kept up to date on matters regarding the safety of the campus community.

A thistle to the current Student Body President Will Weiner and Vice President Meela Dudley. Weiner and Dudley succeeded in engaging the student body with their initiatives during their time in office, including their initiative to register voters during the 2012 presidential election and watch student election debates. Their Town Hall initiatives on campus issues were a landmark for communication between students and faculty.

A thorn for a 3 percent tuition increase for returning students and a 4 percent increase for incoming students for the 2013–14 academic year. Carnegie Mellon is an expensive school even without these increases.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon for founding the new Scott Institute, devoted to environmental and sustainable improvements of energy use. This new center aims to bring together interdisciplinary collaborators to tackle world energy and environmental problems.

A thorn to Apple and Samsung for their continuing patent wars. Both companies are innovators in the technological marketplace. They must focus on innovation and the satisfaction of their customers, rather than on lawsuits over various technologies they have both used in their products.

A thistle to Student Affairs and student government for addressing Carnegie Mellon’s stress culture, student health, and well-being, as well as hosting Town Halls to discuss these issues.

A thorn for the Hamerschlag House residents that painted the message “McGill, I could use a sandwich...” on the Fence. This message was written in poor taste and exuded sexism toward the women of McGill House.

A thistle to student government for increasing their visibility, particularly Student Senate for actively engaging its constituency through last semester’s Senate Week.

A thorn for the public parking meters on streets within Carnegie Mellon’s campus boundaries. These meters make parking expensive for students who once used these spaces to park cheaply while living on campus.

A thistle to HERB and his creators for successfully separating the cookie and cream of an Oreo — a difficult task for a robot — and bringing us one step closer to having robotic butlers.

A thorn to the Spring Carnival Committee for removing Midway Market this year. Midway Market was a valuable resources for smaller organizations to reach out to people enjoying Carnival and to connect with others in the Carnegie Mellon community.

A thistle to AB Concerts for quickly finding a replacement act for Spring Carnival after Ludacris unexpectedly cancelled. Their ability to find a good replacement — Lupe Fiasco — in under 48 hours is commendable. Lupe Fiasco’s performance was a high point of this year’s Carnival festivities.

A thorn to Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law, which would have disenfranchised many people during a presidential election were it not for the order of a judge that delayed its enactment by a year.

A thistle for recent legislation and hearings regarding gay marriage and marijuana across the nation. Legislation concerning marijuana included legalization in Colorado and Washington. The Supreme Court heard cases regarding DOMA and California’s Proposition 8. These issues revolve around personal decisions, and legislation should be passed to reflect this freedom.

A thorn to cyclist Lance Armstrong, a man who was once a star athlete who fell from grace after facing doping charges by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

A thistle to AB Films for using the Bat Signal to announce the arrival of Batman films in McConomy Auditorium as an exciting interlude from studying.

A thorn to Innocence of Muslims, the YouTube video whose terrible production and acting was surpassed by how deeply offensive it was to Muslims worldwide, culminating in mass protests.

A thistle for the Tartan sports teams that had impressive records and accomplishments this year. The football team ended the season with a winning record of 6–4 while the club roller hockey team had a record of 14–0. The women’s tennis team placed second in the UAA Championship Conference while both the Frisbee and golf teams excelled in their division. The women’s soccer team ranked sixth in the nation and entered the Elite 8 of the NCAA Championship while the men’s team ranked 14.

A thorn to the playlist at the Carnegie Mellon Café for playing the same limited list of songs on loop throughout the year, and particularly for the inclusion of Taylor Swift’s latest singles.

A thistle for Housing and Dining Services for providing students on campus with stellar new dining options, such as Worlds of Flavor and The Pomegranate, which offers kosher options. The extended hours at Entropy+ are also appreciated by students on campus working late into the night.

A thorn to Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl for allegations of using city funds for personal reasons and possibly knowing about misappropriation of funds by the Pittsburgh Police Bureau’s Special Events and Finance offices.