For those students just joining us, and for those who simply need a refresher, here’s a look back at some of the news highlights from` last year:

* A not-so Bon Appetit: Campus optimism for new food provider Bon Appetit wavered in the early weeks of the fall semester, when members of Unite Here! Local 217, the University food service worker’s union, accused the company of violating the union’s contract. Many students expressed solidarity with the dining workers, who maintained that Bon Appetit was attempting to cut workers’ hours and benefits. Ultimately, the company and the union reached a settlement near the end of spring semester.

*Usdan boycott: Riding a wave of complaints surrounding the recently-opened University Center (and perhaps feeling an accompanying nostalgia for former dining hall Mocon), about 100 students gathered in Usdan in September to stage a small-scale boycott against the new facility. Former Bon Appetit Resident District Manager Delmar Crim listened to the protesters as they voiced complaints about high food prices, long lines, and unfair treatment of workers. While many questioned the boycott’s effectiveness, Bon Appetit did implement several changes—such as the option of using meals, rather than strictly points, to pay for lunch—when spring semester rolled around.

*Science Center site selection: In early October, a final location was chosen for the new $160 million Molecular and Life Sciences building. While some praised the effort to unite the sciences with the rest of campus, others mourned the imminent demolition of Shanklin Laboratory—one of the oldest buildings on campus—prompting a widely joined Facebook group, “The Save Shanklin Campaign.”

*Cocktails cause chaos: The second installment of a broadly cherished campus tradition, Senior Cocktails, was cancelled after bad behavior at the first event in October. Senior fun was spoiled for all when several students verbally abused the bus driver transporting the class to the off-campus soiree. The driver was also reportedly physically assaulted, and alcohol containers and illegal drugs were also left scattered around the bus.

*Robin Williams draws laughs: 200 lucky students enjoyed an hour of comedy when Robin Williams spoke in the Memorial Chapel. Tickets for the Beta-sponsored charity event sold out a mere two hours after going on sale.

*Surveillance for safety: In December, Public Safety (PSafe) proposed placing security cameras around campus to prevent theft and illegal activity. While PSafe assured students that the cameras were put in place to protect, not persecute, them, many worried they could potentially be used to catch under-aged drinkers. While some new cameras were installed on campus, the issue remains under discussion.

*Diner delights: Students and Middletown natives alike enjoyed omelettes, pancakes, and other favorite dishes when O’Rourke’s Diner reopened in February. The Main Street hotspot, which had burned down a year and a half earlier, remains a cherished example of positive town-gown relations—not to mention a must-stop for delicious cuisine.

*Less Times to go around: Due to WSA funding issues and increased per-paper cost, the New York Times Readership Program, which supplies the free newspapers seen around campus, seemed temporarily in jeopardy last year. While the number of papers on campus was ultimately reduced, the program remains intact, leaving readers and crossword puzzle-doers alike with an adequate Times fix.

*Zonker Harris party prohibition: The end of February may have brought sun and clear skies closer in view, but it also coincided with a controversial announcement: Zonker Harris Day, a treasured WesFest weekend celebration, would go unfunded if the name was not changed. Administration expressed concern that the name—stemming from a stoner character in the famed “Doonesbury” comic strip—would inspire unwanted drug activity. Students begrudgingly obliged, and the festival remained practically unchanged under the equally witty title, ’Ze Who Must Not Be Named Day.’”

*Spring breaking for a cause: While others relaxed in beach-filled locales, about 30 University students joined forces with over 100 students nationwide to protest the War in Iraq. Eight members of the Wesleyan group, titled Our Spring Break, were arrested at the Washington D.C. march. (See article on page XX)

*Surprising campus crimes: The campus community received some alarming e-mails last April, following two on-campus student muggings in a 24-hour period. Public Safety advised students on how to stay alert and collaborated with the Middletown Police Department to help the somewhat shaken campus community feel more at ease in its generally secure home.

*More contract woes: Students and staff joined members of Physical Plant in a high profile campus march to draw attention to the Physical Plant workers’ contract issues. While the workers felt they were loosing money, higher-ups claimed negotiations remained unproblematic. In any case, campus dwellers soon became accustomed to hearing students and workers alike chanting “No contract, no work, no peace.”

*Fountain fiasco: In an end of the year celebration gone wrong, five students were arrested when Public Safety and the Middletown Police Department began forcibly clearing Fountain Avenue of partying undergrads after repeatedly demanding students move away from the street. Charges ranged from disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer to inciting a riot, while police drew criticism for using pepper spray, dogs, and taser guns on the crowd.

*Barack rocked commencement: When the tragic news of Senator Ted Kennedy’s brain tumor was released, seniors were left not only saddened by the senator’s illness, but also without a commencement speaker. Just days before commencement was scheduled to occur, however, students received word that they would be getting a high profile replacement. As they walked down the aisle, graduates were greeted not only by President Roth, but by now-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

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