The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Letter to the Editor | 2 things I wish I knew sooner

Jack Larson
An aerial view of the Main Quad on May 9.

Dear University students, both incoming and returning: You have made an expert choice of institution, and I hope you are proud.

I write to you now as a dusty old alum, and I thought I would share with you a few things about this place I wish I’d known sooner. Forgive me for beginning bitterly, but I consider it a crime worthy of high annoyance not to have been told about two items in particular. 


1. Nap Pods

That’s right. Look no further; the future of public napping is here. On the third floor of the Sidney Lu Mechanical Engineering Building, you will find covered pods meant for students in need of a quick snooze. Picture a motorcycle helmet for your whole body, complete with a reclining bench and an alarm to jolt you awake.

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As a poor sleeper, I know the value of a midday emergency nap. I resigned myself long ago to the hard wooden benches of the main library’s third floor, where one’s backpack becomes a pillow and one’s coat a blanket. You can imagine my indignation after observing that mildly humiliating ritual several times a week for multiple years upon learning there was a better way. 


2. Nick Offerman

Not the man behind Ron Swanson himself, but the way his legacy is communicated on this campus. You may have heard — eagerly whispered through your own alumni channels or shouted at you through a megaphone on your campus visit tour — of the beloved Nick Offerman bench. 

If you have not, you have extra homework. Located under a gazebo just a short walk inside the Japan House gardens in Urbana, you will find a lovely wooden seat hand-crafted by Offerman himself and dedicated to his teacher at the University, sensei Shozo Sato. It’s a great place to think and absorb the gardens’ serenity. 

While I would never question Offerman’s woodwork, the bench is not the most interesting Offerman-related attraction in Champaign-Urbana. 

As I was told just last week by a trusted advisor, there is a bar in downtown Champaign (what bar?) that runs a video loop of Nick Offerman, sitting fireside, Scotch swirling in hand. 

Like the blooming of the Japan House’s cherry blossoms, the bar’s Swanson-sighting is only seasonal, offering just a narrow window for drinking in its sublime aesthetic.

That season happens to be winter, meaning I can only recommend this spot on the strength of its reputation and obvious spellbinding power. Given that for four years, my cop-out answer to the perennial “What’s on your UIUC bucket list?” question was to visit the Nick Offerman bench, I took the news of this virtual scotch Swanson hologram with a grimace. 


I suppose I shouldn’t sulk too much. Perhaps this is what I get for not being an engineer, or not looking at Reddit – where the best and worst of the University’s intellectual output collide. It may already be obvious to the reader that I am the kind of person who catches on to things late. Suffice it to say, others are not solely to blame for my missing out.

So, dearest new arrivals and returning scholars, I hope you will take these words as a reminder to enjoy this great campus and to explore early and often. Pause to admire the Main Quad on a crisp Champaign spring or Urbana autumn day and take in all those other sites of future nostalgia. Treat yourself to an Illini Blizzard at the Altgeld Hall Dairy Queen once in a while. 

But don’t feel pressured; my message is hopeful too. Even in my last semester on this campus, I still found fresh delight in the University’s hidden wonders. As you begin your time here, I wish you growth and fulfillment in your stay. Have fun, save the environment and write for The DI. 


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About the Contributors
Eddie Ryan, Columnist
I am a junior studying history and economics. I am also interested in philosophy, law and public policy; I especially enjoy writing about politics and literature. Reach me at [email protected]
Jack Larson, Audience Director
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