Hail From The Chief: No news is good news, but good news is still news

At any point in the day, thousands of students hurry from one class to the next, study with friends in the Marriott Library and grab a bite in the Union cafeteria.

But what so few ever see in their four-plus years is the campus after dark.

They never see the people working behind the scenes-the custodian who shows up to the Union at 11 p.m. on the dot every night and swipes his card to enter the northeast doors; the two or three lights peppered through the physics building at 3 a.m. as professors deliberate in the late hours, planning classes and labs-all these individuals who make the campus what it is while the deer gallop through the parking lots and campus security cars troll the streets.

Dedication to bettering their surroundings drives many of these people to focus on their work as they overlook a sleeping city. It drives them to research, even with no one around to give notice or praise. This is the determination that should steer all of us as we enter the world seeking to make use of our degrees.

Sure, we’ve all learned menial things that could help us on our journey, too.

For example, since stepping on campus as a shy and confused freshman in the fall of 2000, I’ve learned which restrooms to avoid, where to study, where to sleep, the most effective time to take a walk and watch the sun set behind the mountains to the west, the most effective way to make it through without having to see the sun rise over the mountains to the east on the way to class, the fastest route from campus to Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme, the most effective way to destroy Chris Bellamy at “NBA Showtime”-and my favorite: how to watch football games from the sidelines.

Apparently all you need to do is fill out an application to be a photographer at your school paper. Who knew?

Sure, there have been struggles in realizing other goals. For example, how do you beat deadline at the paper, tie up loose ends, leave at 2 a.m., then stumble into 7:30 a.m. courses the next day and muster the energy to be coherent and try to contribute to discussion?

The answer: a reclining couch in your office. Lie low for a few hours, and in case of sudden fading, try that newfangled caffeine gum and a Cherry Pepsi. Sure, the two taste terrible together, but whoever said college would be easy?

I’m grateful to this school for teaching me what I never thought I could learn-how to juggle a pair of majors and a pair of minors with what often becomes a 70-hour-per-week job. But more importantly, it’s taught me that this campus has some truly unique and gifted individuals, both in leadership roles and as common students, faculty and staff.

Yes, even across the hall in the Associated Students of the University of Utah (gasp?yes, I said it).

The student government sees criticism virtually every time it makes the news, which is understandable at times and perhaps gratuitous at others. But anyone who met with Ali Hasnain and John Poelman and interacted with them on a personal level likely agreed that U students were in good hands this year.

Maybe ASUU hasn’t always gone with the majority opinion they’ve found from student surveys, but they’ve outdone many of their predecessors by asking. Let’s take this one step at a time.

One would think it would go without saying-leaders do not exist to follow. As students, we vote those who show the best intentions into power-in 2005, the student body succeeded (not to say the same wouldn’t have occurred had Taylor Morgan and Rob Beck taken the helm).

The ASUU Senate and General Assembly should be held accountable to their constituents, but governmental leaders must pave the way for groundbreaking changes-sometimes against the behest of those who voted them into power. Your student leaders have done their jobs.

So now that ASUU has its few paragraphs of glory among a year of criticisms, allow me to briefly recap the greatest hits and misses of the past six years:

Best campus speech: Saad Eddin Ibrahim, former prisoner in Egypt who addressed human-rights concerns, sponsored by the Middle East Center.

Best campus organization: Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Biggest victory: Tie: Utah over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl and the U at the Utah State Legislature in obtaining funds for library renovations.

Biggest disappointment: Tie: Urban Meyer leaving for Florida and the rec center dying in committee.

Biggest nailbiter: Women’s 2006 NCAA Elite Eight basketball game.

Biggest change: Tie: Accommodation Policy and new University of Utah President Michael Young.

Biggest potential change: mandatory health insurance

Biggest blunder: giving Chartwells a monopoly over Union food

So as a final goodbye, thank you, President Young. Thank you, Jim Fisher and Glen Feighery. Thank you, Kirk Jowers, Ibrahim Karawan, Dan Harrie, Sheena McFarland and Matt Canham. Thank you, June Marvel, Linda Adams, Courtney McBeth, Jayne Nelson, Keri Johnson, Laura Snow and Liz McCoy. Thank you to the entire staff of The Chronicle, the entire administration. Thank you, Ali Hasnain, John Poelman, ASUU. Thank you to the entire student body and especially our entire readership. Thank you, Mom and Dad for the encouragement I needed to succeed.

And thanks to the U for giving me something to worry about for more than 2,000 days.


Steve Gehrke