Throughout the past few years, Illinois State has been moving up the ranks as far as its credibility. Although the faint cry of “I Screwed Up” will probably always be in the background when speaking to other Illinois university students, this mantra is far from true.
ISU has many aspects to boast about, including the new Hancock Stadium, an increased number of applicants and higher GPAs of those students admitted. Not to mention other aspects like increased diversity and specific academic programs have become more selective as well.
But it still seems as though ISU is missing one crucial part in its rise as a university: a tradition. A few years ago, a group of students tried to create “Fools’ Fest” as a celebratory event over April Fools’ weekend. However, the emphasis on drinking and partying put an end to the event before it ever really began. Decades ago, ISU also had the Rites of Spring, which was essentially a mini-Woodstock that took place on the Quad. ISU President Lloyd Watkins ended this celebration immediately after taking office.
Other universities have large partying atmospheres, which contribute to their traditions, such as Iowa State’s VEAISHEA and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day. However, this Editorial Board believes that ISU needs a tradition to call its own, and it does not need to relate to partying.
Recently, USA Today ran an article with a list of 10 different universities around the country with various traditions. For instance, Yale University has a statue of former university president James Dwight Woolsey. One of its traditions includes rubbing the bronze foot of this statue for good luck, which is especially prominent among prospective students. Rubbing the belly of the Billiken statue on St. Louis University’s campus is supposed to have a similar effect.
ISU has many statues around campus, including the Hand of Friendship statue in honor of former president Robert G. Bone. However, instead of students shaking it for good luck, some are rumored to have urinated on it, unfortunately. This just seems disrespectful (as well as illegal) and not the kind of tradition that ISU should aim for either.
Another almost tradition that some students follow is the photo shoot, usually on graduation day, by the bench that reads “To Those Who Fell in Love at ISU” with their significant others or close friends. Since not a large number of students actually do this, though, does that count as a tradition?
In short, no, this Editorial Board does not believe that it does. Illinois State has a history. The University has existed for more than 150 years, and there are many reasons to be proud of it. A tradition would help give students even more of a sense of identity. With the completion of Hancock Stadium, students seem more invested than ever in Redbird football. Can this sense of pride continue throughout the other athletic seasons? Can it spread throughout campus?
Some students have difficulty transitioning from high school or a community college to larger universities, and ISU is not alone in that. However, having a tradition that students can participate in will also help build their sense of comfort upon arriving in Bloomington-Normal. They would likely feel like a part of something bigger and welcome ISU as their home that much faster.
Having a tradition would benefit ISU in so many ways and would give students yet another way to restore pride in what the university is all about.