What’s hot on campus 2011-2012

A look at this year’s trends

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RIT students, faculty and staff take pride in leading the way in every facet of campus life—including technology, academics, housing and dining. Athenaeum takes a look at what’s hot on campus this year, made popular by our community of trendsetting Tigers.


On the graduate program spectrum, emerging programs include industrial design, graphic design and computer animation, according to Diane Ellison, assistant vice president for part-time and graduate enrollment services.

“We are also seeing a spike in sustainability-related programs such as environmental science, architecture and environmental health and safety,” adds Ellison. “Sustainability is a hot topic around the globe, and our students and faculty are passionately looking for ways to become part of the sustainability revolution, help create awareness and make a difference.”

There are many RIT programs that are in high demand. A few of those include mechanical engineering in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, game design and development in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and film and animation in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, according to Daniel Shelley, assistant vice president and director of undergraduate admissions.

However, a few of RIT’s newer programs—including chemical engineering and biomedical engineering—have quickly become popular. In addition, the College of Liberal Arts has shown steady enrollment growth over the past several years.

“The overall growth of the College of Liberal Arts is particularly impressive considering that we are primarily a technological university,” says Shelley. “This steady enrollment growth is a testament to the power of cross-disciplinary programs, as well as students who seek a well-rounded education.”


Without a doubt, the iPad 2 is the hot tech gadget for the coming year. Features such as a high-definition camera, a long battery life and a thinner, lightweight design are attracting students, faculty and staff to the latest development from Apple.

Robert Laros, assistant director for computer sales at RIT’s Digital Den, is impressed by the all-in-one nature of the product and predicts a steady stream of iPads moving off store shelves come September.

“Students, in particular, are looking for quick and easy ways to access information. At the very least, the iPad 2 allows users to surf the Web, check e-mail, watch movies and read books using one extremely portable device.”

Another popular trend in technology this year is digital textbooks, which allow students to purchase and download books directly to their desktop computers, laptops, iPads or other portable devices for studying on the go. In addition to the convenience of not having to carry around bulky textbooks, digital textbooks are saving students an average of 45 percent compared with the cost of traditional textbooks. For more information on digital textbooks, go to rit.bncollege.com.


RIT students increasingly place greater value in shopping responsibly. Barnes & Noble @ RIT features a fair-wage clothing line that is one of the hot clothing items this year, says store manager Peter Briggs.

Fair-wage clothing is not produced in sweatshops and is priced to cover the cost of production as well as a living wage, rather than minimum wage or lower, to cover basics such as food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care for workers.

“Purchasing fair-wage products helps promote environmental sustainability in at-risk regions, creates an investment in people and communities, and promises that workers are guaranteed freedom of association and safe working conditions,” says Briggs.

Barnes & Noble @ RIT offers the Alta Gracia fair-wage clothing line, produced in the Dominican Republic, which features a selection of sweatshirts and T-shirts.

Campus Dining

With more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff consuming more than 2.3 million pounds of food each academic year, it’s important to keep campus food offerings fresh and exciting.

“Trends in campus dining today have found their way to RIT,” says RIT executive chef Stephen Kingston. “The first is what’s called global fusion cuisine, essentially a mixing of flavors and tastes from around the globe. One classic example of this is the Korean taco, which started on the West Coast by a man who owned a roadside food cart. His unique blend of Korean and Mexican flavors was an immediate hit. Our customers will have the pleasure of experiencing this type of global fusion cuisine this year in the form of creations like a Korean flank steak on a Hawaiian sweet roll.”

Another trend that Kingston plans to incorporate into this year’s campus dining offerings is a twist on traditional comfort foods.

“Foods like grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and chili are truly comfort foods that our customers select time and time again,” he says. “But, this year, we will be adding a twist to these staples by infusing them with a variety of global flavors.”

“We are also proudly purchasing more fresh fruits and vegetables from local producers to help sustain our New York state agricultural economy,” adds Kingston.

Residence Life

We all remember our college essentials—extra-long bed sheets, mini refrigerators, oscillating fans, hot pots for late-night Ramen noodle binges. Some of these items are still found in residence hall rooms today, and a few other residence hall “must-haves” have surfaced.

“Life-sized cardboard cut-outs, like Robert Pattinson from the Twilight book and movie series, are really hot right now,” says ChaRon Sattler, associate director of residence life. “I’ll walk past student rooms and see gigantic cut-outs of movie stars, athletes, cartoon characters.”

Also hot this year, LED Christmas lights, single-cup coffee makers, removable wall decals and curtain beads—a throwback to the ’70s.

“We want our students to feel at home here on campus, so if bringing some of these items makes them feel comfortable and creates a unique space for them, we’re all for it—as long as it meets our safety requirements, of course.”


Without a doubt, RIT students, faculty and staff like to have a good time—and according to the staff at the Gordon Field House and Activities Center, they love a good laugh.

“RIT brings lots of top-notch entertainment to campus year after year, but believe it or not, it’s usually the comedians that are the best-selling acts,” says Luke Mekker, field house director.

This October, RIT hosts comedian and actor Kevin Hart as the featured act for Brick City Homecoming. Hart will perform at 9 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Gordon Field House. Tickets—$15 for students, $30 for faculty,staff and alumni—can be purchased by calling 475-7814.


Here, Pickle!

The sport of pickleball began in 1965 in the Puget Sound area of Washington when the children of two families created the game to curb boredom. The only problem was Pickles, the family cocker spaniel, kept stealing and hiding the ball.

Pickleball is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. The game features a perforated plastic baseball (similar to a Wiffle ball) and wood or composite paddles.

“We regularly survey our students to find out what recreational activities they would like to see at RIT,” says Brennan Coon, assistant director for intramurals and club sports. “Over and over again, pickleball kept showing up on the surveys. I finally did some research on the sport, and this year, I can say proudly that pickleball will be on the list of approved physical activities for our students.”

For more information, go to the USA Pickleball Association’s website (yes, it really exists) at www.usapa.org.

A few other recreational sports that will debut at RIT this year include intramural ice hockey (of course) and broomball—a game played on ice with two teams equipped with brooms trying to shuffle a ball into the opposing team’s net.