Quick Commentary: A year in review
May 8, 2017
A seemingly normal Saturday night turned upside down when shots rang out on Sept. 25. Students’ phones began to buzz with Illini Alerts, informing them of an active shooter on Green Street. In a frenzy, students texted friends, confirmed their safety and fielded calls from panicked loved ones. We hear about school shootings rather often in the news, but might not have thought that it would ever happen here. We learned that violence can happen anywhere. It happened here, taking the life of 22-year-old George Korchev and wounding five other innocent bystanders. The senseless violence sparked outrage, debate and fear, but it ultimately united campus through mourning and standing in solidarity with the victims. It is truly unfortunate that we live in a society where an innocent man can die while walking down a street that is supposed to be safe, on a campus that should be welcoming to students and visitors alike. That night will never be forgotten, and neither will the life of George Korchev.; however, even as we faced a trying time, we proved that through unity we can emerge hopeful.
The Daily Illini File Photo
You probably won’t forget where you were the night the Cubs won the World Series, a victory that was 108 years overdue. The Cubs beat out the Indians four games to three, and history was forever sealed. The seven games that make up the World Series primarily took place in October, so we are counting this momentous feat as something we can all look fondly back to. Whether you were rallying on Green Street, in a bar somewhere on or off campus, kneeling before your TV at home or standing in the crowds in Wrigleyville, there was truly nothing like the feeling of experiencing this historical moment. The now iconic song “Go Cubs Go” blasted through the streets and was surely stuck in everyone’s heads for weeks after. Cubs fan or not, we all have to admit that this was one of the more exciting World Series in recent memory. From watching them give up their lead, through the anxiety-ridden rain delay to sealing it off with the iconic double-play, it’s safe to say that the night of Nov. 2, 2016 is one for the books.
The Daily Illini File Photo
November was a month that brought change. Not only did the Cubs win the World Series at the very beginning of the month, but also, Donald J. Trump surprised the nation — and the world — by beating out Hillary Clinton in the race to become president of the United States. Some went into the election night confident that Clinton would win, not even worried enough to watch the results as they slowly rolled in. Some were hopeful, having voted for Trump all the while knowing that he was the underdog in the race. As the results came in, the world watched in surprise as it was finally realized late into the night of Nov. 8, 2016, that Trump had actually done it. He beat out Clinton with 306 electoral votes to her 232. No matter where your political allegiances are, it is safe to say that this night marked a change in era for this country and for the world. Republicans took control of the presidency, the House and the Senate and promised that there would be some changes that would take place in the coming months — whether those changes were wanted or not.
After the madness of November finally died down and it was realized that school life would continue as normal for the time being, December was pretty quiet around campus. Students came back from Thanksgiving break to take finals and then went home again for winter break, a break that was surely needed after another emotionally and mentally hard semester. However, there is one happy thing that happened in December on this campus that is worth noting. This University welcomed some new alumna to the club after December graduates walked the stage and earned their diplomas. For those who graduated in December: Congratulations, and we hope that life is going well and that you are happy. If you have left campus and haven’t already visited, come back to take charge of your old stomping grounds again soon. Earning a degree from the University is no small feat, and you did it and lived to tell the tale. We can all learn from your wisdom.
January was marked by the start of a new year and a new political era. Some of our election night worries came to fruition: Donald Trump was inaugurated and began his eventful term as president. But the month wasn’t all his to relish in: The day after he was sworn in, women across the globe participated in the Women’s March, drawing about 470,000 people to Washington D.C. alone. Champaign had its own version of the march, with 6,000 attendees coming together in our small college-town community and demanding a change in the way women and minorities are talked about and treated in this country. After an Inauguration Day that symbolized hopelessness for many, the Women’s March demonstrated that change doesn’t happen by Tweets and empty talk. The millions of people who marched on Jan. 21 showed that in a time where the president can get away with sexually violent talk and degrading treatment of women, the best way to incite change is to join together and raise our voices.
Ah, February. Another quiet month around campus. While the beginning of the month was confusing for many people, as the temperatures mirrored spring instead of winter, February was pretty much as bleak as ever. Still toward the beginning of the semester, but deep enough into classes so homework seemed as though it would never end, everyone was carrying on, looking forward to spring break. However, in the midst of classes and homework, the University kicked off the celebration of its Sesquicentennial. As a land grant institution that officially came to be in 1867, the University has been shaping the futures of those who attend school here for 150 years. Current students and alumni alike owe a lot to this fine institution for shaping the way we think and view the world, all the while preparing us for our future endeavors. The kickoff of the celebration was on Feb. 28, and even included a large birthday cake for students to eat. So a big happy birthday to our amazing University, 150 years has never looked better.
March was an interesting month for more reasons than just spring break. For those of us who are sports fans, we might remember March 2017 as the month that John Groce was fired as the men’s basketball coach, an event that occurred, not to the surprise of most, on March 11. Just a few short days later on March 18, it was announced that Brad Underwood would take his place. Underwood has already begun making positive changes in the program, and has left fans excited for the next season. He even managed to secure a four-star guard, Mark Smith, who committed to Illinois just a few short weeks ago. Things are definitely looking up for Illinois men’s basketball. On a note that is not sports related, Cracked opened a storefront on Green Street on March 27, which was a delight to many of the restaurant’s loyal customers. Different from the food truck because it is permanently in the same location, the storefront boasts the same delicious menu that has made it a favorite among University students from the beginning.
This year had its ups and downs, but we were lucky enough to top off the year on a positive note. On April 28, the College of Engineering dedicated a statue honoring women in engineering, titled “The Quintessential Engineer.” A beautiful statue that personifies a passionate and brilliant female student, the artwork demonstrates the college’s dedication to diversity and had many students on campus thrilled about the representation it symbolizes. Given the impact art can have on society, this particular piece speaks a thousand words: Women are welcome in the College of Engineering and encouraged to succeed. The world needs female voices that are powerful in pioneering change for society. The historically male-dominated field has taken strides to broaden its acceptance, and we should be proud that the University is highlighting those efforts. The work doesn’t end with a statue, though; we should all learn something from the college’s dedication to diversity and apply it to our studies and to our own lives in general.
Courtney is a junior in LAS.
Isabella is a sophomore in ACES.