As easy as it may be to believe otherwise, UR students do not actually live in a bubble. Over the past four years, seniors have experienced and responded to a world of changes both on and off campus.
Here are just some of the big events and themes that defined our college years, both academically and otherwise. As we all prepare go our separate ways, we will still share these common memories.Leadership ChangesAfter a successful decade-long tenure, President Thomas Jackson announced his resignation. His Renaissance Plan increased the quality and diversity of the student population while making many changes to the university’s internal architecture.
Joel Seligman began his term as president last July and immediately cultivated strong ties with students and faculty throughout UR. Seligman has made capital developments improving UR’s image one of his top priorities.
Additionally, Dean of the Faculty Thomas LeBlanc departed UR for the warmer climate at the University of Miami. Now, after 32 years at UR, Dean of the College William Scott Green, the chief architect of the Rochester Curriculum and cluster system has announced that he will follow LeBlanc and begin work at Miami this summer.“Yellow Fever”Class councils began distributing Yellow Fever t-shirts, and other groups distributed thunder sticks and other novelty items to encourage school spirit. With new gear and winning teams, UR students turned out in massive numbers to support the Yellowjacket basketball teams. Even though the original Hive bleacher seats no longer exist in the Palestra, students had no trouble creating a new nook from which to taunt the visiting team.TechnologyInnovation at UR is just as strong as innovation around the world. As freshmen, we were the first class to enjoy the features of UR Wireless in Rush Rhees Library and the Eastman Quad. Students also celebrated the installation and rapid expansion of the DVD library in the Multimedia Center and took friendly stalking to the next level with the campus web cameras and, of course, Facebook.
However, not all technological additions were as welcomed, or easy to implement. Since the winter of 2004, students have had free access to Napster, yet many continue to download music illegally. In order to curtail waste and implement higher-end printers, a printing fee was added for each page. Online course registration also suffered challenges initially, but has since become a tremendous asset to students and the Registrar’s office.Campus FoodWe still remember with longing the flexibility of block meals and the joy of exchanging our surplus blocks for soda on Wednesday nights. Fortunately, most of us were still able to enjoy the freedom of declining plans. Dining Services has increased services, most notably with the addition of the sushi station in the Pit. However, when the “Real Food On Campus” campaign began in Danforth sophomore year, it begged the question, “What were we eating before?”
Also, new programs like Wilson Commons Wednesdays and Club Rochester have allowed Dining Services to showcase their diverse menu items.
But seriously, who doesn’t walk through the tunnel under the library and long for the days of the McDonald’s french fry machine?Greek LifeFraternities and sororities have survived a rollercoaster ride of challenges and changes. During sophomore and junior year, numerous fraternities were on probation and houses on the Frat Quad were unoccupied. Now, Greeks have clear guidelines and a more stable relationship with The College. With the Frat Quad thriving again, students are experiencing more social options and business is once again booming for Uncle Dicky.Campus ConstructionIn the past two years several new projects have begun to improve facilities on campus. Cogen now links building across campus to the River Campus power plant while reusing the heat energy of steam flowing through the pipes.
More recently, students have watched the new Robert B. Goergen Biomedical Engineering & Optics building explode off the sketch pages into a new facility which will dominate a newly landscaped engineering quad.NatureFortunately, through annual tuition increases, the landscaping crew has kept up with our aggressive grass seeding schedule.
Additionally, some students have gone the extra mile to embrace our furry friends around campus. Sometimes raccoons are just too darn cute not to pet, but be forewarned, I hear they bite.Student ProgrammingStudents enjoyed cultural experiences through on-campus programming, featuring comedians, speakers, musicians, student performers and parties despite a few derailments. Some of the highlights include Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, Pablo Francisco, Senator Hillary Clinton, Elie Wiesel, Michael Moore, Desmond Tutu, Spike Lee, Guster, Dashboard Confessional, along with a capella groups including our nationally ranked Midnight Ramblers, cultural performances like ADITI’s MELA celebration and the Fusion party.2004 ElectionUR students frequently consider the student body to be apathetic. However, the 2004 presidential election proved otherwise. UR the Vote led voter registration drives and provided transportation to polling places. Students turned out in large numbers for a mock debate between two Political Science professors to gain a better understanding of the issues and importance of the election. ActivismVarious organizations, including political groups made their presence known on-campus by staging protests and drafting resolutions through the Students’ Association government for the ‘No Sweat’ campaign.
Many events were positively received, like the fair trade coffee taste test and the anti-war rallies, while others, like the affirmative action bake sale, the missile demonstration which interrupted an optics conference and the die-in in front of military recruiters at a career fair, sparked contentious debate. Disaster ResponseTragedy has struck the world and our campus community several times. Together we commemorated the first anniversary of 9/11. We also saw the devastation following the massive tsunami at the end of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina this past fall. Students developed innovative programs including dinners, bracelets and JAM-balaya, which involved over a dozen student groups and raised awareness about the disasters while raising money for victims. Several groups of students also went on alternative spring break trips to help hands-on with the recovery. The R-O-CThe city of Rochester also plays a big part in the life of undergraduates. Even though the UR Special bus was retired, students can still get off-campus thanks to convenient bussing routes provided through RTS. RED, the new and successful Rochester Every Day program encourages students to support local businesses by providing discounts to UR students.
We have also seen the city struggle with its own economic issues. The Fast Ferry, designed to shuttle people between Rochester and Toronto, seemed to sail away just as quickly as it appeared on the radar. Also, UR students watched the convenient Mt. Hope Wegmans close down and become a parking lot.Closing TimeThese are just some of the many events that have shaped our lives at UR over the past four years. Just like Emily Paret wrote for her senior quote in her high school yearbook, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So don’t think of this as saying goodbye, it’s “see you later.”
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