Editorial: Ups, downs define roller coaster year

There is only one way to describe the events and the emotions shaping the legacy of this past year — a roller coaster ride. It’s as if students, professors, faculty and administrators hopped onto this amusement park attraction with the intent on riding out the good times. But along the way, we have had to endure some unexpected lows.

In the past 10 months, Rider has not only confronted unimaginable loss but also has made significant progress in uniting the talent of the Princeton and Lawrenceville campuses for the benefit of the University. Fifty years after Rider relocated from Trenton to Lawrenceville, Rider still does not look a day over 29. Let’s review some of the year’s most notable moments.

Before classes even commenced in the fall, the Rider community had to contend with the loss of Dr. Richard Deni, professor of psychology; George McGowan, a graduate of the class of 2005; Caryn Wilson, a student from the College of Continuing Studies; and Betty Falkenstein, retired secretary for the Geological, Environmental and Marine Science Department. If there is any comfort to consider in losing these four members of the “Rider family,” it is in realizing the difference and contributions each made to the University. Only three months later, we were saddened by the death of Dr. Richard Alexander, who died while swimming on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

Tragedy struck a devastating blow with the death of Gary DeVercelly and weeks later, the Virginia Tech shootings.

On the bright side, we were greeted with many positive changes as we came back for classes in the fall. An overhaul of the Cranberry Café, now known as Cranberry’s, is a delightful option for students looking to grab a quick bite to eat from an extensive menu in a suave seating area. After much hassle and frustration, the student e-mail system got an upgrade by dumping the old Webmail for Collaboration Suite.

As a result of the Student Senate, the card swipe at the South Entrance now works, allowing students to bypass the often-congested Public Safety kiosk at night. Thankfully, the Senate propelled plans for Facilities to improve the drainage system on the Lawrenceville campus to hopefully alleviate the flooding problem once and for all. The Princeton SGA took action bringing a facelift to Seabrook Hall with new sidewalks, a vanity in the bathroom and repairs to the ceiling.

Trying to balance a full academic course load with extracurricular activities and other commitments while still catching a few good nights of shut-eye got even harder as national headlines grabbed our attention. The war in Iraq continued on into its fifth year with more than 3,000 American deaths and hit even closer to home with many of our loved ones fighting or taking on extended tours. Despite the growing discontent with the political direction of this country, many students sat by idly on Election Day while Democrats took back Congress. We may not see the relief, but future college undergraduates will notice the lower interest on student loans thanks to Congress. Most of all, some semblance of equality was given to gay couples as New Jersey passed legislation to recognize civil unions.

As some students wait to take final exams and wrap up their first year of college while anticipating the four months of glorious summer sun, seniors are anxious to soak up the last few days of their undergraduate career before marching off into the real world. Even as the class of 2007 struts across the stage on May 11 and the class of 2011 prepares to enter, there is one formidable bond we all share — Rider.

This weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News editorial board and is written by the Opinion Editor, Jamie Papapetros.

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