Thumbs: Shiny Norris, dirty beaches

Thumbs up to Northwestern for donating $550,000 to the city of Evanston for a new fire engine.

This fire engine may be the perfect gift – after all, Northwestern likely uses the fire engines in Evanston as much as residents do. You can never have too many fire trucks when there are 8,000 crazy undergrads running around, as the fire alarm at Tech the other day demonstrated. And fire safety as a peace offering – what’s better than that? Hopefully this shiny new fire engine will be the start of a beautiful friendship – or, at least, a mutually beneficial, semi-grudging affair.

Thumbs up to NU field hockey. In just 10 games, the Wildcats are 8-2 and have already surpassed last season’s win total.

It didn’t take very long for new field hockey coach Tracey Fuchs to make her print on NU. Fuchs is arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport, and is in the Kelly Amonte Hiller mold: a young, first-time head coach with an extensive playing history. Combine Fuchs’s superior coaching style with promising players, including transfer Chelsea Armstrong, and this could be a banner year for the team.

Sideways thumb to NU’s wishy-washy revamped alcohol policies, namely the “Responsible Action Protocol.”

In an attempt to curtail the number of unreported cases of alcohol poisoning of NU students, university officials adopted the “Responsible Action Protocol,” a policy designed to lessen the disciplinary action taken against students who help their friends after a night of having too much to drink. Even though the school’s offer seems enticing, it fails to provide any guarantees to students. The university’s vague, bureaucratic wording to “consider the positive impact of taking responsible action in an emergency situation,” as it says in this year’s Student Handbook, only offers a “maybe you’ll be in the clear” to students. Instead of worrying about facing the wrath of housing personnel, we first and foremost need to be concerned with each other’s well being. Until NU’s policy assuages our fear of getting in trouble, student safety will remain on the back burner.

Sideways thumb to the renovation of the Norris ground-floor dining area: A new Jamba Juice booth in the same old digs with sterile white walls and modern furniture.

After summer renovations, the revamped dining area fails to excite students with underwhelming changes, including the addition of new lounge areas. The furniture and color scheme do little to enhance the room, and the new seating area does not compare to the more popular “couches” behind Starbucks. While the addition of Jamba Juice is greatly appreciated by all, and undoubtedly the best addition to come out of the renovation, the new smoothie station alone can’t make the new dining room as extraordinary as it claims to be.

to the high levels of contamination at Evanston’s beaches.

Learning the beloved North and South beaches not only contain exceedingly high percentages of contamination but are also among the worst for water quality is an upsetting wake-up call for everyone. The beaches are the prime focal point of campus, and a fun place to go for the few weeks of the year when it is not freezing. But after discovering the water contains high levels of pollutants, it appears most people will want to stay away when they reopen in warmer weather. And to make matters worse, it seems the exact source of pollution cannot be determined, meaning it could take some time for the waters to be completely clean.