At the end of each year, we tend to reflect.
In academia, where so many things already defy conventions, we look back at a “year” that in fact began only nine months ago and bridges two calendar years.
Nonetheless, after surveying the staff and the front pages of our 52 issues to date, we determined the Top 10 news stories of the 2003-04 school year.
Many things were left off: Texas redistricting, accreditation for the College of Business Administration and the International Church of Christ forums during Lectureship all came close to making this list. Other stories went unmentioned or barely mentioned on our pages-COBA Dean Rick Lytle’s unresignation after spring break, a more complete discussion of gay marriage and the Martha Stewart trial fit this bill.
And still other stories have become so routine they almost don’t seem like news. Track and field racked up two more championships, Campus Life shook up its offices, and the Students’ Association elected new officers.
All that aside, here is what made the list of biggest news stories:
Kendall Massey takes over as director of Student Productions. Massey, in taking over from Phyllis Wilson, trimmed the budgets of Freshman Follies and Sing Song and drew rave reviews from participants, coordinators and staff of both productions.
Social club rating system “re-evaluated.” The much-rebuked 5-star system lasted only one year before it was dropped. The principle of the system remains, officials have said, and it will return in some form next year.
Chapel shifts emphasis away from worship, toward community. After a tumultuous year that included a “protest Chapel” and ended with President Royce Money granting amnesty to all who were over their allotted absences, the Chapel Task Force’s prescribed changes went into effect, re-introducing announcements and community days, both of which had been advocated by the Optimist.
Saddam Hussein captured while fighting escalates in parts of Iraq. The year started well for coalition forces in Iraq. A Christmas-break capture of the deposed dictator made international headlines, but troops have battled terrorism and rebels in several cities since.
City keeps strict housing limit, begins enforcement. The Abilene City Council voted down a proposal to increase the limit on the number of unrelated people who could live together. After the rejection, the city began enforcing the law, telling a group of students in the Hillcrest neighborhood to move or be fined.
Viruses, worms wreak havoc on ACU network. MyDoom and other viruses and worms, along with an increasing flood of spam e-mail, caused numerous problems for the university’s network connection. Instant messaging crashed, access to the Internet was limited for several weeks and administrators warned students to register their computers with Team 55 to ease virus-tracking abilities.
Traffic safety awareness increases after accidents. Two students were injured, one critically, in an accident on Loop 322, and another student nearly died after being hit by a pickup truck while crossing Campus Court. City and university officials painted crosswalks, removed some diagonal parking and urged students to be careful on Campus Court and East North 16th Street.
Student Tiffany Hamilton dies after battle with pneumonia. Hamilton,senior interior design major from Augusta, Ga., died Sept. 3. She was remembered by family and friends at a special memorial Chapel where her brother said “She’ll be more than missed.”
SA budget conflicts highlight need for reforms. The Students’ Association Congress clashed over its budget both semesters, facing dual problems of losing quorum and miscommunication. A budget committee issued several directives for future executive officers to follow, and Congress passed a plan to better communicate the budget intricacies to student groups.
University offers early retirement to dozens, cuts tutoring programs. In order to reduce a projected $5 million budget shortfall, the university offered early retirement to about 120 employees, with about 40 accepting. It also eliminated the University Studies division, incorporating several of its components elsewhere and doing away with the Learning Enhancement Center and the Department of Academic Advance. About 30 positions were eliminated in the budget moves, which were the most significant taken by the university in 10 years.
We’d be remiss to note some other stories that will likely make next year’s Top 10 but began this year: the Centennial Campaign was announced, the jogging track was begun and significant changes were made to the Medical Clinic and University Counseling Center.
It has been our pleasure to report these and many other stories this year-to bring you the news fairly, accurately and professionally.
We hope we have fulfilled our duty, and we aim to do even better for you next year.