Sunday, November 02, 2003

Forward, Together Forward

Went to the Huskies game today, and it was a walk down memory lane. And let me just say that the memories are even sweeter after seeing the NIU campus reborn.

When we left the school ten years ago, it was promising to be "the second big school in Illinois." I remember being angry at them for attempting this, because they were spending current students' tuition and room and board dollars to basically make the campus better for future students. This didn't seem a fair use of my then increased tuition. Besides, nobody believed that this inept university could ever amount to much of anything other than a suitcase college.

But upon our return, we noticed some changes. For one, the campus has been significantly beautified. There are gorgeous stone and rought iron gates sprinkled around campus which hark back to the original building on campus, Altgeld Hall, aka "The Castle." They've built a new auditorium (with tons of additional seating) called the Convocation Center and now have national touring acts stopping by in addition to the NCAA basketball and volleyball events. The East Stands in the Huskies Stadium are now just as big as the West stands (the only real seats to speak of in the past), and they're selling out every game. The football team is winning and has consistantly been in the AP Top 25 all year (they haven't been in the top 25 since, well, I have no idea. It's been decades). They've made it safer for students to walk to class by closing a major road that ran inbetween the East dorms and turning it into a student pedway, complete with red and black brick pavers in an elegant design. Even the dorms are completely redone, with the cafeteria now sporting travertine surrounds and a line-up of quick-order store-fronts that make you think you're in a mall food court.

In short, they've done it. They're well on their way to making NIU the second "big school" to go to in Illinois. Instead of dread and derision, I'm filled with pride and hope for a school which I've scorned for ten years now. I've gone from saying "they'll never see another dime of my money" to "I think I'd really like to send my kids here."

And that takes a lot. Especially if you're talking about old curmudgeon over here. Don't look at me. I'm talking about that other guy.

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