The Daily Illini

Editorial: Expectations for a better year

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Editorial: Expectations for a better year

What is it like being a University of Illinois student?

It’s a question that students hear ad nauseam, particularly over the summer from the inquiring minds of old friends and relatives.

Sometimes it’s met with an uncomfortable laugh or just pretending that the question wasn’t heard. Or maybe some students are honest and simply say how they feel.

Honestly, discussing the University hasn’t been easy during the past year. Or the past five years. There’s been clout and scandal surrounding the University for the past decade, which has hurt the national view of our school.

The resignation of former chancellor Phyllis Wise, the firings of football coach Tim Beckman and athletic director Mike Thomas and different campus incidents such as the White Student Union Facebook page and the repeated vandalization of the Chabad menorah have left the University with a broken image.

It was, by all means, a difficult school year, but that doesn’t mean this year has to be more of the same. We’re starting the academic year under new leadership with the appointment of Robert Jones as the Urbana-Champaign chancellor. Lovie Smith and Josh Whitman have taken over as head football coach and athletic director and seem to be building a strong, positive environment for Illinois athletics.

In our eyes, the University’s recent hirings are symbolic of a return of positivity to the campus, and it’s up to the student body to capitalize on those efforts and make the most of the opportunities we have here.

The DIA offered free tickets to students for Illinois football’s season opener against Murray State, leaving little reason for Block I to be empty. The other athletic teams warrant attention too. The men’s golf team competes for NCAA titles annually and volleyball makes consistent appearances in the Sweet Sixteen.  Attendance is free or seriously inexpensive for students at many of these other University sporting events and our teams are fun to watch.

And please, be kind — or at least respectful — to one another. From the creation of a White Student Union Facebook page to the repeated vandalization of the Chabad menorah, our campus was often divided last year.

It’s fine to disagree with your peers and voice your opinion. We are bound to run into difficult discussions and differing perspectives during an exceptionally controversial election season.

But it’s not okay to belittle people who disagree with you. It’s paramount to the success of our student body that we remember to have respectful conversations, no matter how different our viewpoints.

The University’s year of tumult has come to an end, and our Editorial Board is optimistic about our new leadership. We believe the right people have been tasked with improving the University’s image. It’s important for students to remember that they play a role in that image too.

If everyone adopts a more positive attitude, students and faculty alike can be comfortable expressing pride in our University next summer.

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