Winter Quarter in thumbs

Thumbs up to Associated Student Government’s new O’Hare shuttle service, which will finally take the guesswork out students’ airport trips.

Only a year after introducing its airport taxi RideShare program, ASG is making travel a little easier this spring break. On Wednesday, ASG announced that it will be offering a shuttle service to O’Hare from March 19 to 21. Not only does the service provide an easier, more reliable and accessible mode of transport to the airport, it also offers transportation at a minimal cost to students – a mere $10 through online reservation. With the economy in a recession and airline prices at an all-time high, ASG is limiting not only the hassle of airline travel, but also its cost.

Thumbs up to the announcement of jazz legend Wynton Marsalis as this year’s commencement speaker.

Three weeks before this year’s graduates first matriculated, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the gulf coast. In its wake, on television screens around the country, Americans were reassured of the region’s resolve through the calm yet impassioned voice of one particular New Orleanian: the famed jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

Marsalis’ message about the power of New Orleans residents to overcome adversity through culture, particularly manifested in their art and music, struck a chord deep in the American soul then, just as it should now. Our present crisis will require massive changes to our economic system and way of life. But more than that, it will require renewed resolve in American culture. As Marsalis wrote on the eve of President Obama’s inauguration: “If we focus on who we are as a nation and the culture that brings us together, we will face the uncertain future with supreme confidence.” The commencement planning committee’s choice of Wynton Marsalis as speaker and recipient of an honorary degree recognizes the broader contributions of the arts and humanities to society. Northwestern, like America herself, is fortunate to have such a talented cultural icon as Marsalis to reassure us in these uncertain times.

Thumbs up to the NU men’s baseball team, which will be playing Notre Dame at U.S. Cellular Field, the home of the Chicago White Sox, on April 15.

Tickets only cost $10 and proceeds from the game will benefit Chicago White Sox Charities – all the more reason to trek to the South Side for what should be an entertaining game of college baseball. Parking is complimentary, and you can bet NU will be planning buses or a shuttle to transport students down to the stadium. Last year’s NIU-Notre Dame game held at the field was such a success that the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority decided to give the game another go. Head down to U.S. Cellular Field and support your Cats on April 15.

Thumbs down to the adminstration’s restructuring of meal plan exemptions.

The new plan will make students who live in university housing unable to cancel meal plans mid-year, tdiscouraging students from signing up for fraternity meal plans. The initiative is an effort to cover the nearly $1 million NU loses each year from canceled meal plans – it not only forces freshmen to opt out of Greek plans but will likely deter students from living on campus their sophomore year. The move off campus will undoubtedly tax the Evanston police force and strain town-gown relations. Fraternities in particular will likely fight against the measure, as many houses rely on their alternative meal plan options to attract new members to houses and cover operating costs.

Eh to a rollercoaster Winter Quarter.

A quarter of contradictions. ASG had its ups and downs – a handful of Web sites, the Saturday Shuttle, the oversight bill, the new President-VP elections procedure. Campus leaders dropped the $200,000 Winter Quarter event, but A&O countered with two acts, Josh Radin and Demetri Martin. Incoming NU President Morton O. Schapiro wowed students and faculty alike. NU basketball kept us waiting ’til the last second. Evanston’s elections heated up, and the downtown plan might become a reality. And now spring is upon us.