2012: A year in review

The Mercury editors took a look back at some of the most significant campus events during the past year and have shared their thoughts on how these important stories affected students and will continue to impact the university during the upcoming year.

President Daniel mentions football

BK – Don’t expect to see a group of green and orange linebackers any time soon, but Daniel at least alluded to the possibility of maybe having a football team perhaps sometime in the next decade or so. Sound definite to you? Levity aside, even Ivy League schools field football teams, so UTD will eventually create a football team. The most obvious hurdle is the cost, as sports teams of any kind don’t come cheap.

LF – The fact that football is even being mentioned in a realistic setting at UTD is remarkable. Current athletic games have low attendance, but would this athletic spirit change if we had a football team? However, UTD President David Daniel strives for high quality performance in all activities at UTD, so we shouldn’t expect to hear too much on the subject until UTD gains the resources and supplies it takes to support such a team.

ATEC crane collapse

BK – Unfortunately, construction on the building UTD is so excited for also resulted in a tragic accident that took two lives, has led to at least one lawsuit and halted progress for weeks. Fortunately, the project is still estimated to be completed on time, but the messy legal situation involving multiple companies, contractors and other parties will continue.

LF – The fatal tragedy for two construction workers raised inquiries about unsafe working conditions and the contractors involved on the site.  However, because the accident happened in the summer, most students were not around and there was little commotion. Students returning in the fall may have never known of the collapse as the construction of the ATEC building quickly resumed.

AB – The fatal crane collapse that killed two workers at the ATEC construction site raised questions on safety of workers at the work site. While students, staff and faculty had a strong presence at the memorial service in honor of the deceased, the university acted in damage control mode and officials were reluctant to divulge details of OSHA’s investigation into the accident.

Food truck failure

LF – Though lots of effort and money were put into these projects, they don’t seem to have made too much of a difference from what we had before. The food truck has especially struggled in gaining enough customers to balance its expensive running costs. Hopefully, these services will be more successful in the future and additional dining options will be carefully considered before being implemented.

AB – A most hyped, decked-up food truck was advertised as a viable late-night food option to students, but within days of its launch, the Texas heat got to it, rendering it inoperable at night for a few weeks. Despite dining services officials’ claim that the truck is doing good business, lunchtime buyers are few and far between.

Homecoming tailgate

BK – The only thing weirder than scoring free beer with a couple buddies on campus was guzzling them down in front of some of the university’s most important figures. The tailgate itself wasn’t that spectacular; the crowd mostly consisted of SG reps and Greek members. However, personally and shamelessly, I could get used to increased availability of beer before games, and based on my experience drinking in public with my fellow schoolmates, I might be speaking for several students.

Veterans Center opens

BK – Considering nearly one in every 20 UTD students is or was in the military, the addition of a Veterans Center was a welcome one. I can imagine becoming used to life back home while also adjusting to the college environment could be a huge obstacle to a veteran. The office will hopefully make that transition a little easier.

LF – Since the war in Iraq ended a little more than a year ago, more and more veterans have enrolled at UTD and requested assistance in the transition. The establishment of the Veterans Services Center answered the veterans’ call and provides a central location and resources that reflect the university’s respect for these service men and women.

New smoking ban

LF – The new tobacco policy was certainly less severe than most anticipated. Smoking was already prohibited inside buildings, so the additional prohibition of other tobacco products came without complaints. Signs have gradually gone up, and most smokers seem considerate enough to step away a few extra feet. However, if UTD officials decide to implement an entirely smoke-free policy in the coming years, they should expect a much larger reaction as students, staff and faculty continue to smoke with little signs of interest in the cessation programs currently offered.

AB – I think the administration at UTD made a sensitive, healthy and environmentally friendly decision to make all stairwells and buildings tobacco-free. Bans such as these can help motivate chain smokers to quit or reduce usage, which not only benefits smokers themselves, but also passive smokers whose chance of exposure to tobacco reduces.

Rugby club’s success

BK – Who knew students could be so good at a sport that most probably don’t even know exists? I’d argue it’s actually not too weird that UTD has a dominant rugby club — we’re great at chess, after all. It’s been fun watching a group of guys come out of nowhere and win match after match to the point that it’s not surprising anymore. Sports fans don’t get the chance to see something like that happen too often.

Obama re-elected

AB – A nail-biting, if a little predictable, finish to an election that created some of the craziest Internet memes was overshadowed by super storm Sandy. The storm forged some unusual support ties for the President in the form of N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, even as both presidential candidates rescheduled their campaigns as they came out in support of citizens in the storm-hit regions, proving that leaders are, first and foremost, humans.

LF – “…” – Republicans

Another NSERL on the way

BK – I thought the ATEC building would be the coolest building on campus, and while I might still end up being right, NSERL 2, with an $85 million price tag, will at least be in the running. The “mermaid building” twin will house offices for new tenure-track professors and generate millions in research dollars, accomplishing two of UTD President David Daniel’s main goals he presented at his State of the University address last fall.

Record SG voter turnout

BK – Luckily another pair of students entered the election race before the entry deadline passed, which piqued enough students’ interest so that the turnout in 2012 wouldn’t be as ridiculously low as in 2011. Last spring’s campaign was heated and awesome. Here’s to hoping there are plenty aspiring presidents and vice presidents who will enter to run in 2013.

LF – In an age group that often regards any kind of elections with apathy, a 10 percent turnout is a respectable figure to achieve. The competitive tickets and referenda boosted the number way up from previous years, but there is still room for improvement.

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