Stamatakis: Good things happened at Pitt this year

By Nick Stamatakis

4.2 degrees. 4.2 degrees.

No, I am not talking about my new boy band, promised to be at least one-twenty-fourth as good as 98 Degrees. Instead, I am talking about one of the facts that proves this year didn’t actually stink.

4.2 degrees is how much warmer this winter was than the average Pittsburgh winter. You might not be aware of this, possibly because you might not have known that winter even happened this year. Your memory might be weak because there were no crippling blizzards, no long shots of icy death from the arctic and, for me at least, no compound fractures from slipping down an impressive flight of four steps.

Yes, because of 4.2 degrees, this year rocked. It might not seem like a lot, but it was the difference between manageable cold and Snow Miser’s basement.

This point, along with several others, deserves to be remembered, or at least reconsidered, before we write off this year as a complete failure. Of course, there was one big series of events that might have put a damper on the party for some, but plenty of small things happened throughout the year that have made 2011-2012 a good school year nonetheless.

Consider Pitt football: Looking at our record, I will admit it is hard to call 2011-2012 a winning year (actually, it would be a lie). But moving beyond the record, it’s quite easy to see this season as a blessing; we lost a coach who led the team to a mediocre 6-6 season without having to endure further years of football mediocrity. Had we not lost him, every year we would have had to predict if Todd Graham would get another chance from Steve Pederson to try to bring Pitt football to Dorsett-level glory again. Inevitably, he would have failed — I don’t know how anyone who breaks up over text message can be a winner. We just saved a few years and many countless hours of listening to sports radio callers talk about how to coach college ball.

Pitt’s greek organizations also seem to be having new successes. Sophomore Luke Stamatakis, Greek Week Chair for Sigma Phi Epsilon and brother of this writer, says that there has been an increase in interest in the Greek community.

“A lot of the Greek Week events were getting more crowded. Fraternities and sororities are having a lot of good fundraisers, too.”

If that’s not a quote from a participant in a thriving Greek community, then I don’t know what is. Because of this, and what I perceive as an improving reputation in general for the Greek community, we can say this year rocked for the Greeks.

On the artistic side of things, I think there is a consensus that Pitt’s Symphony Orchestra is the best it’s been since I’ve been here. And even if it’s not a consensus — I don’t know if such a consensus exists about these sorts of things — at least I think so. The flute and cello sections in particular have never sounded clearer. For the first time in my life, I find a violin section enjoyable.

Pitt Repertory Theatre has also had a spectacular year. Working with the music department, members put on “Sweeney Todd” this year, a massive collaboration on a scale that hadn’t been attempted in many years. Add to that this year’s “The Gammage Project,” an ambitious production portraying local race relations, which was written based on interviews and documents from the real-life death of black Pittsburgh resident Johnny Gammage. And while the entire set of smaller student-directed lab shows was great as well, “Bedtime Stories,” which was produced at the beginning of the year, stands out with some spectacular performances.

Also, need I mention that Pitt produced more Goldwater Scholars this year than Carnegie Mellon, the University of Pennsylvania or Penn State?

But what we really have to remember are the little things. One thing that greatly improved my quality of life, and I assume the quality of life of many other students, was the bathroom renovations at Hillman. Anyone who has used the men’s bathrooms will tell you that the old ones were disasters, with the urinals so close together two men could never possibly relieve themselves at once. I am sure the lady’s side has seen equivalent improvements.

Want more? Remember the roaches found after a Sept. 16 health inspection at Market Central? Exterminated. Remember the lack of a classy park-side dining space between Hillman and the Oakland grass patch? Porchified. Even our lack of success in a national basketball championship was kind of mollified. Just squint at the CBI trophy and block out anything other than the word championship, and you’ll be fine.

So there we have it. Good things did happen this year. All across campus, new things, weird things and even important things made this year great for many Pitt students. We shouldn’t need a Dumbledore-esque email from the Dean of Students or a bugle call to remind us of this. Before we let the weirdness of the current campus situation get to us, all we have to remember is that enough good has happened to offset the bad.

Write Nick at [email protected]