A lot has happened in the last four years, and a proper retrospective is in order. So much has happened, in fact, that many very consequential things have faded into the background.
At an institution as large and prestigious as UR, it seems that every week some department gets a multi-million dollar grant, a professor who is revered in his field publishes a book or a criminal on the run from police takes a plunge into the Genesee River in an ill-fated attempt at freedom (September 28, 2006; September 26, 2009). This retrospective, however, will focus on the major events, controversies and changes that will stick in the collective memory of the senior class.
2006-07: UR is named a ‘New Ivy” by Newsweek Magazine and is also ranked No. 34 on U.S. News and World Report’s annual ‘Top National Universities” list. That rank has vacillated over the past four years but the school remains a top research university with a growing reputation &- spawning the Facebook group ‘U of R. Never heard of it? That’s okay, you wouldn’t have got in anyway.”
New graphic design and mascot update UR’s image. The Office of Communications narrows down 229 initial designs to choose the current version: a shield drawn with actual colors ‘Rochester” blue and ‘Dandelion” yellow. A year later students vote on Rocky to replace former stalwart URBee, who had been described in the press as ‘not fierce” and ‘nice, but a wuss.”
Hillary Clinton debate is closed off to students. Clinton kicks off her $36 million Senate campaign with a series of debates against former Mayor of Yonkers John Spencer. While the outcome of the election was no surprise, students are outraged at being barred from the event.
URos program kicks off, and the University unwittingly adds a ‘beer and wings” fee for UR parents.
College Readership Program enacted. From the outset, students are violently divided into two ideological camps: The New York Times crossword puzzle and the USA Today crossword puzzle. Nine out of 11 Varsity tennis players quit after the administration continuously denies their demand that head coach Anna Khvalina should be replaced.
2007-08: Chipmunk causes blackout. A chipmunk gnaws through the electrical apparatus that controls the River Campus power grid, causing a four-hour campus-wide blackout. Continuing the trend of cute animal related crises, in May 2008 a raccoon, later nicknamed ‘Li’l Jimmy,” captures the student body’s imagination for two days as he gets caught in the Morey Hall ivy.
Theta Chi sanctioned, loses house. Following a New Year’s in November party at which a junior was arrested, Dean of the College Richard Feldman puts the fraternity on ‘censured status” until the fall of 2010. Dean of Students Matthew Burns delivers great quote, ‘They don’t have to pay for renovations. They have to pay for reparations.” Theta Chi will return to the fraternity quad next semester.
Gandhi resigns after blog controversy. After nationwide outrage over his comments in the Washington Post’s ‘On Faith” blog that ‘Jewish identity… has been locked into the Holocaust spirit” and Jews must let the past go, Arun Gandhi resigns from the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence that he founded to honor his grandfather’s ideals.
Campus Activities Board drops Dandelion Day. The group decides not to sponsor the annual day of debauchery, stating that the tradition had ‘broken from its roots.” With the announcement, students finally find an issue that they care about and mobilize to save D-Day, at least for the year. CAB picked up the tab again in 2009.
2008-09: Busing to bars banned. The Office of the Dean of Students suspends transportation to and from Senior Night events after a fight breaks out on a bus in September. Busing is resumed in February, but only for students 21 and over.
Barack Obama elected President. Students closely follow the campaign with multiple events and debates surrounding the elections. On the night of the election 10 Eastman students are arrested for unlawful assembly after playing ‘Hail to the Chief” on Main Street directly following Obama’s victory announcement.
Brooks Landing developments open. After 25 years of community negotiations, a number of University-associated projects open: Riverview Apartments, Staybridge Suites, Boulder Coffee and University office buildings. Almost two years later, California Rollin’ is still just a dream.
Social Security Numbers stolen. Four hundred and fifty students have their names and SSN’s stolen from the UR Student Employment website. Booting returns. Fifteen months after the Campus Times revealed that Parking and Transportation Service’s booting scheme was illegal, the city grants Parking a writ of exemption and the practice returns. Within a month a booted student is caught by Security with an ax and a mission.
2009-10: Mayor Duffy’s plan for mayoral control of city schools engages UR. The hot button issue draws opinions from locals and students alike, as the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development hosts community events and forums to discuss the plan.
Women’s basketball team advances to Final Four with an average margin of victory of eight and a half points for the tournament heading into the Final Four.
Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library plan foiled. A united stand from the school’s science majors upends administration plans to close down the POA Library. People that I have literally never met rejoice.
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.