That Was the Year That Was — or Was It?

A brief, abridged recapitulation of the events of this academic year, in very rough chronological order. Enjoy!

The Tech published the Rotation schedule for the first time since 2019.

SPECTRE library’s famous ‘Anakin’ lifesize figure was found in the dumpster outside Fleming House.

Blacker House’s potato cannon and two of Rickett’s House’s traditional ‘skits’ were banned from Rotation.

The “Question the Quail” column and other satire content in The Tech continued to irk campus administrators (though none of them were irked enough to contact us about it directly, opting instead to complain to ASCIT and IHC leadership).

Two sophs sent a prank email to all freshmen through the Housing Office’s official email address, were disciplined by the Deans, and were instructed to write an apology letter to be published in The Tech as part of their sanction.

Caltech Dining Services returned to full pre-COVID operations, including the berry station on weekends, and a new vegan-only selection in collaboration with Plant Based Union.

The Admissions Office hosted the largest-ever Caltech Up Close event for prospective undergraduate applicants, bringing 200 high-school students to campus.

The grad student listserv erupted into two flamewars — one about a humanitarian crisis halfway across the world, and one about squirrels — and President Thomas Rosenbaum was forced to intervene.

Athletics facilities continued to undergo much-anticipated renovations. There was a brief asbestos scare, and controversy surrounding Athletics Director Betsy Mitchell’s decision to make the Braun Gym patio doors exit-only, to the dismay of Bernoulli the Beaver.

Dabney House celebrated the beginning of Mariah Carey’s defrosting season by blasting “Welcome to the Christmas Parade” at the conclusion of the annual Pumpkin Drop.

Several murals in the undergraduate houses were painted over or modified due to a new mural policy.

Caltech deferred policy-setting on the use of AI tools like ChatGPT to individual departments and professors.

Kip Thorne and Lia Halloran released their new art and poetry book, The Warped Side of Our Universe, and celebrated with a book talk at Caltech.

Following growing distrust in the Honor Code by several faculty stakeholders, the undergraduate Board of Control (BOC) acquiesced to some procedural changes and additional oversight by the Deans’ Office.

The Housing Office replaced several couches in the undergraduate houses with extremely uncomfortable and ugly new ones, prompting a questionably-justified magnitude of outrage from lounge frosh across campus.

The ASCIT Screening Room in the south houses was completely renovated with new non-crusty furniture and easily-washable covers.

Laundry machines in all undergraduate residences were upgraded to a new payment system which does not accept student ID payments; users instead must create an account on a smartphone-only app, which requires a U.S. phone number, credit card, and a password that does not contain any special characters and is less than 16 characters long.

The 2024 College Free Speech Rankings, conducted by College Pulse and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), gave Caltech a title of “Slightly Below Average”, placing it 144th on the list of 248 universities (Harvard being dead last at #248, but that does not come as a surprise).

Caltech graduate students and postdocs unionized to form Caltech Graduate Researchers and Postdocs United-United Auto Workers (CGPU-UAW) with overwhelming support.

Several undergraduates shared their stories and experiences with Caltech’s Title IX Office in The Tech, highlighting a recurring theme of official complaint and investigation processes taking months longer than expected. Hima Vatti, then-Title IX Coordinator, subsequently resigned from her position (for unrelated reasons – to pursue a position at another institute). The Tech published the results of a poll of undergraduate students on this topic, following multiple weeks of back-and-forth with VPSA Kevin Gilmartin and the Institute Review Board regarding whether the poll counted as “human subject research.”

Following the recommendation of a Faculty Advisory Committee on Undergraduate Admissions, Caltech reinstated the standardized testing requirement for undergraduate applicants beginning with the Class of 2029 — ending the moratorium one year early. In the wake of that announcement, The Tech leaked a petition from 150+ faculty members which expressed concerns about recent students’ academic performance and called to reinstate the SAT requirement.

Caltech Theater (TACIT and EXPLiCIT) put on a multitude of pioneering productions including “Another Revolution”, the MACH 33 New Science Driven Play Festival, “The Real Inspector Hound”, and “Earth Data The Musical Part 1: The Beta Version”.

JPL was forced to lay off 8% of its workforce due to federal budget cuts.

Droves of people scattered across the southwestern region of North America to witness the April 8th total solar eclipse.

ASCIT Formal at SoFi Stadium was a huge success, despite innumerable trials and tribulations (not the least of which was the Institute trying to concurrently schedule parents’ weekend, then stalling approval of ASCIT’s contract which had been pending for months beforehand).

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo gave the ‘State of the City’ address at the Cahill Center.

The Tech, in collaboration with Caltech Prank Club pulled the first official prank on MIT in several years, delivering specially-crafted shitpost newspapers throughout Cambridge.

In consultation with the IHC, the Housing Office revised the rules for the unaffiliated-priority housing lottery, giving less advantage to those “recently unaffiliated” who unaffiliated during or after winter term.

Caltech Turtle Club launched a campaign to change Caltech’s mascot to the turtle.

DiscoTech (formerly known as Prefrosh Weekend) brought nearly 200 admitted students to campus. In anticipation of the trending increase in yield rate, only 315 undergrads were admitted to the Class of 2028 in total.

The timeline for the new Ginsberg Center for Quantum Precision Measurement, to be constructed south of the Linde building on California Ave, was announced.

The Institute’s Free Speech and Expression Policy received heavy revision. A group of undergraduates held a silent sit-in protest in solidarity with Palestine, receiving 3 seconds of airtime on a local television channel.

A visiting committee for student affairs recommended a complete reorganization of Caltech’s Student Affairs department.

Contributors to The Tech finally got paid!