In barely more than a week, the bustling UW-Madison campus will be reduced to a ghost town as the first half of the school year ends and students head home for winter break. As usual, the university has seen its fair share of controversy and excitement, but there are some events that stand out from the rest:
- President Barack Obama's campus rally: After already making several visits to Wisconsin this past year, Obama came to the UW campus on Sept. 28 to rally support for vulnerable Democrats. Along with a few friends, I waited in line all afternoon to stake out a good place in Library Mall. I must admit, sitting in the street for about three hours got pretty dull, except for seeing a stray horse run down Park Street with mounted police in pursuit. But in the end, the experience of seeing a sitting president at an outdoor political rally reminiscent of years past at the UW was worth the sore legs.
- Badger football team beats top-ranked Buckeyes: No matter what the sport, there is definitely no love lost between the UW and Ohio State. So when the Badgers defeated the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes at Camp Randall on Oct. 16, it sparked a level of jubilation that had not been seen since the UW men's basketball bested the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils last December. And like after the Duke game, fans rushed onto the field to personally congratulate their victorious football team. To take a line from the wildly popular Zooniversity song, the UW definitely taught OSU "how to Bucky."
- The Badger Herald's "worst people" list: Not surprisingly, when the UW's student tickets to the Rose Bowl game went up for purchase on Dec. 6, they were snapped up very quickly. And also not surprisingly, these coveted tickets ended up on online marketplaces a short time later for inflated prices. Taking offense to this profiteering, the Badger Herald culled a list of these names and published them as "The Worst People on Campus." This action stirred very heated responses from people on both sides of the issue, and the list even gained national attention from such outlets as ESPN and USA Today. But love it or hate it, people are definitely paying much more attention to the issue of ticket scalping at the UW than they have before. [Editor's note: Isthmus intern Alicia Yager is a member of the Badger Herald Editorial Board.]
- Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery opening protested: Among the speakers at the Dec. 2 grand opening for the new private-public Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery were Gov. Jim Doyle and Chancellor Biddy Martin ... and a group of protestors. Of course, the members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 171and the UW's Student Labor Action Coalition were not on the schedule, but they raised such a ruckus of yelling and banging on windows as to interrupt both Martin's and Doyle's speeches. They were protesting how the two restaurants in the private section of the facility -- run by the non-profit Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation -- would not employ unionized workers. The unionists made the most of the media exposure at the grand opening to plead their case to the community. But I don't think their display helped their cause with WARF.
- UW student killed in car crash: UW senior Dylan Ellefson was on his way to work on the city's near east side on Oct. 24, but he never arrived; he was killed in a car accident on East Johnson Street. Friends and classmates gathered at a campus memorial service for Ellefson, sharing their memories and grieving with his family members. After the accident, Ellefson's parents established a scholarship fund for aspiring Spanish education majors -- Ellefson's intended career path.
- UW student arrested on suspicion of murder: A UW junior lost his mother in a car accident in northern Wisconsin. But was it an accident? The suspicious injuries discovered in autopsy, coupled with several life insurance policies found in the household, prompted authorities to arrest 24-year-old Chase Boruch for allegedly murdering his 63-year-old mother Sally Pergolski. Boruch is currently being held in Lincoln County on $2 million bond, and he is also -- for the time being -- still enrolled at the UW.
- $86,000 kegger bust: The fact that Madison police broke up a large house party on Sept. 11 and busted underage drinkers is not unusual. But when the hosts of that party are slapped with $86,000 in fines, it became a different story. Incidentally, one of the hosts was UW sophomore Kevin Tracy, former reality TV star from MTV's College Life show. MPD said they raided the house party because more than 200 people were at the party, and they were concerned about safety. They also said they issued more citations than usual because the party apparently incurred more costs than an average house party. However, many campus observers felt the MPD was just trying to make an example out of these students.