Thumbs: NU expands and apologizes

Indifferent thumb to Medill Dean John Lavine for responding appropriately to the anonymous quote charges. In light of the controversy, Dean Lavine sent out an e-mail to Medill students and faculty Wednesday evening explaining that he would never fabricate quotes and worked hard to retrieve his notes and deleted e-mails.

It is important to recognize his efforts to prove the veracity of his work in Medill magazine last year. While Microsoft was not able to help recover the e-mail that contained the anonymous quote in question, we respect Lavine’s humbly worded apology. Many Medill students have noted that is in sharp contrast to his usual demeanor.

Since David Spett’s Feb. 11 column, the story has been picked up by National Public Radio and the Chicago Tribune. Yet without hard evidence to back his claims, doubts remain regarding Lavine’s story. Perhaps with more of those “extensive efforts” from Bill Gates and company, Lavine could free himself from the recent criticism.

Thumbs up to the expansion of the NU Middle East program. NU is hiring five additional professors specializing in Middle Eastern issues in an effort to expand resources. The Middle East is continuing to grow in importance and President Bienen, who has lived in Turkey and Egypt, has had the idea of creating a greater emphasis on Middle Eastern studies for almost a decade. He previously worked with the president of American University of Beirut planning a joint project between the two schools, and the two presidents visited the Saudi Arabian government together for funding before the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. The recent anonymous donation makes Bienen’s efforts possible.

Weinberg has an Asian and Middle East studies program, but currently there is no department that specializes in only Middle Eastern studies. Classes pertaining to the Middle East make up 10 of 36 total departmental courses offered in Winter and Spring quarters of 2008. With the addition of these new faculty members, the Middle East concentration at NU will have an easier time competing with the resources provided for Asian studies.

Thumbs down to NU for never having early release days like D65. While Evanston parents may be complaining about their children’s plethora of short school days, we wouldn’t complain if our university decided to give us a break. We promise.

Unlike most schools, NU’s addiction to the quarter system means that students don’t ever get breaks mid-stress, only after the convulsive explosion that is finals week. NU’s only concession to either the awful weather or student stress levels was cancelling classes for one evening. In the last 30 years. Honestly, we’re surprised they didn’t steal another day of this quarter’s Reading Long-Weekend in response.

Thumbs up to A&O Productions for an incredible Winter Quarter of programming. In winter alone, A&O will have successfully hosted Girl Talk, B.J. Novak and Flight of the Conchords. These events have been very popular, with both Girl Talk and Novak selling out on opening day. Thankfully, A&O has learned from the previous events and is hosting Flight of the Conchords in the larger Cahn Auditorium.

What’s extra cool about these events is that while A&O could have brought one big name for the quarter, they instead chose to bring really interesting, more alternative acts that have an obvious fan base, but are also accessible to all and constantly gaining popularity. These acts have been quirky and fun and will culminate in the super quirky performance of Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a cappella-rap-funk-comedy duo. Here’s to hoping that Spring programming is just as funkalicious as Winter’s.