2018 Thistles and Thorns: a semester in review

Credit: Bernice  Yu/ Credit: Bernice Yu/ Credit: Bernice  Yu/ Credit: Bernice Yu/

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 society at large; thorns go to those that have negatively impacted the campus and our society.

A thistle for the eternal legacy left by Stan Lee, whose death was met with great sadness and deep reverence. Despite the shock of his passing, his iconic work will always be regarded as hugely influential on modern American pop culture.

A thorn to the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue. On Oct. 27th, 2018, a gunman entered the building, shouted anti-Semitic statements and opened fire, killing eleven and injuring seven.

A thistle to the Carnegie Mellon community for rallying together in the wake of the tragic Tree of Life shooting. Students engaged in discussions, attended vigils, painted the fence, and held fundraisers in support of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

A thorn to the tragic death of Pittsburgh-born rapper Mac Miller, who was the unfortunate victim of a drug overdose in September. His passing prompted thousands of fans to mourn his passing with a vigil in Pittsburgh’s Blue Slide Park, which he named his debut album after.

A thistle to the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot Gritty, who with a terrifying orange beard and crazy googly eyes, has become an internet darling. Gritty has done just what a mascot should: be an instantly recognizable symbol that raises the Flyers’ national profile. The mascot should get extra thistles for his anti-fascist clout.

A thorn to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, prominent journalist and critic of some aspects of the Saudi regime, at the hands of the regime he had critiqued. His murder is a dark sign to journalists and defenders of free speech across the world.

Thistles to the new campus renovations: most notably La Prima in Wean Hall and the dining areas in the new Tepper Quad. Now there are more places for us to get bougie coffee in-between classes!

A thorn to the colossal tent that took the idyllic CFA lawn and turned it from a place for students to hang out with friends and study in the outdoors into a gigantic mud pit.

A thistle to the shift from Culinart to Chartwells. Overall, food quality has gone up due to this switch.

A thorn to the Underground renovation. Now, because of its hipster restaurant in a gentrified neighborhood-aesthetic, the safe haven for students staring at their screens and on the verge of mental breakdowns is destroyed. First-years will now never know the comfort of being able to finish a paper and cry while being hidden by the dim lighting. Extra thorn for them misspelling "Pittsburgh," omitting the "h."

Special thistles to all that worked together following the Campus Cupboard study that revealed widespread food insecurity here at Carnegie Mellon. This year, the CMU Pantry opened up in the Residence on Fifth. Students can get fresh and canned food twice a week by visiting the pantry. We are excited to watch a community develop around the pantry!

Thorns to the bizarre crime incidents near campus. In an ongoing stream of weird and disturbing campus crime alerts, the university was notified of a man wearing a scream mask attempting to rob people at gunpoint near the university. While watching the horror movie classic might be a fun Halloween activity, having it inspire the near-campus robberies extending over the past few months was less than thrilling. However, the serial masturbator(s) would not be outshined and made it in a few crime alerts, most notably at a nearby Starbucks. Both prompted students to be extra aware of to their surroundings.

A thistle to Carnegie Mellon’s 10th president, Farnam Jahanian. Prior to his Presidency, Jahanian served as the University’s Provost and Chief Academic Officer for two years. He has already left his mark on the University as Chairperson of the Task Force by leading the Strategic Plan 2025, and introducing other new programs. The Tartan looks forward to the impact he will make during his time as President of the University!

A thorn to the recent acquisition of the Fifth Neville Apartments by Carnegie Mellon, an action that perpetuates the unethical and ill-considered displacement of Pittsburgh residents in quickly developing areas. This decision is not only controversial for its explicitly immediate consequences but also for the longstanding Carnegie Mellon history of displacing local communities for the sake of university plans.

A thistle for the $50 million in scholarships announced during President Jahanian’s inauguration. Cindy and Ted Johnson, both Carnegie Mellon alumni, made the largest scholarship donation the University has ever received. They made this donation to try to open up the Carnegie Mellon experience to students from lower income families, and lessen the burden of student debt for some students. This is an effort that the University must prioritize in order to truly have a diverse student body.

A thorn to the archivist and the Caliban owner that conspired to sell stolen rare books from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Both Caliban and the Carnegie Library are important institutions for Carnegie Mellon students who like to read and study. It is a bummer that people charged with protecting books were responsible for defacing and stealing them.

A thistle to the changes to Carnegie Mellon's course add, drop, and withdrawal that all took place this year. The earlier course drop deadline, now Oct. 8, gives students 31 class days to decide to drop a class instead of to the 51 students had previously, to encourage people to drop classes earlier and limit their stress. In addition, students can now drop a class at any time of the semester with no repercussions, up to three times in their undergraduate career.

A thorn to Judge Brett Kavanaugh being sworn in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the aftermath for survivors like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who are subjected to immense disrespect.

Thistles to the 2018 midterm election results! There’s much work to be done to enfranchise all people, but large voter turnout and the representativeness of the elected officials were all major wins!

A thorn to the Trump administration’s policy of separating hundreds of migrant children from their families and housing them in tent cities and subpar facilities.

A thistle for the increased diversity in Hollywood. We saw the release of Marvel’s Black Panther, which not only made over one billion dollars, but inspired a cultural movement and became a milestone in black representation. We also saw the release of Crazy Rich Asians, the first dominantly Asian cast in a Hollywood movie in 20 years, committed to telling the stories of Asians, by Asians.

A thorn for the tragic fire that destroyed the National Museum of Brazil. The museum lost up to 20 million priceless historical and scientific artifacts in the fire, many of which were important parts of scientific and cultural research.

A thistle to Diane Turnshek and her group of researchers who have worked on taking pictures of the night sky to further our understanding of light pollution. Here’s to a future with reduced light pollution, where we can bask in the subtle glow of more visible stars.

A thorn to the surge of wildfires that have swept through California this summer, displacing thousands from their homes, devastating communities, and taking over a hundred lives.

Lastly, a thistle to all the readers of The Tartan! Thanks for another great year!