New student guide to unsung University culture


Madeline Pierce

Students rush to the streets after the Illinois Basketball team won the Big Ten Tournament on March 14. The energy at Illinois creates a united culture unlike any other campus.

By Nick Johnson, Assistant Opinions Editor

Welcome, new students, to the University of Illinois. What an exciting time it is for all of you, and rightfully so. You are about to begin a four-year-long journey at one of the nation’s top universities that will see you obtain a world-class education, develop invaluable professional skills and construct lifelong connections.

Alongside these incredible experiences that lie just on the horizon, incoming students will also be treated to a plethora of traditions that have served as cornerstones to the University’s culture for generations. Among these traditions is Quad Day, where you can peruse the information booths of the University’s more than 800 registered student organizations. This RSO extravaganza is one of many welcome week activities you’ll not want to miss.

While festivities such as Quad Day are surely to be looked forward to, be sure to also anticipate the other not-so-renowned, but just as true to student culture, traditions that the University has to offer.

For example, new students are presented with the thrilling opportunity of being able to partake in campus’ most heated debate: whether the school mascot should remain the ninth letter of the alphabet or be changed to a bird which The Cornell Lab so majestically describes as “stocky” and “large-headed.” This fiery topic of conversation is sure to have every incoming student at the edge of their seat, catalyzing profound questions such as, “Who the hell cares?”

If the great Kingfisher debate is not enough to satisfy the zeal of new students hungry to immerse themselves within the University’s rich culture, they need not look further than bustling Green Street. On this iconic road, new students will be faced with a host of difficult decisions — many of which are arguably some of the most important decisions of their young lives.

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    Which bar should you attend to annihilate your favorite shoes with its mystery floor juice? Does the prospect of eating a scrumptious calzone justify the 1000-mile trek to DP Dough on a frigid winter night? Will you ever try a six-level spicy dish at Bangkok Thai to the delight of your taste buds but to the chagrin of your digestive tract? These near-impossible questions and more await new students on storied Green Street, daring to be answered.

    If these daunting philosophical questions prove too intimidating to incoming students, fear not. Another fantastic way for new students to feel a part of the Illini community is by figuring out which ecological niche they will fill within the quad-dweller community. 

    Will they choose to be the frisbee player whose errant throws nearly decapitate dozens of passers-by per day? Or will they be the student lying asleep under a tree who inexplicably has the ability to use a rugged trunk as a pillow? Perhaps they will be the cyclist who unapologetically denies the existence of the school’s bike paths and zips past pedestrians at blinding speeds while wearing earbuds that undoubtedly are blaring Limp Bizkit at full volume. The possibilities are endless.

    When discussing University culture, one would be remiss to omit the breathtaking scenery that the University has to offer. While the Japan House cherry blossoms in spring bloom provide a vibrant spectacle to behold, these arboretum grounds pail in comparison to the endless seas of scenic, awe-striking and downright stunning stalks of corn that surround the campus. Let students of the University of Colorado-Boulder irrationally argue that their vistas outshine those of Illinois — the fools, in their fickle ignorance, have forgotten they cannot eat mountains.

    Regardless of how new students choose to acclimatize into their life as an Illini, they will undoubtedly be in good hands. Between the wide array of degree paths, the multitude of clubs and RSOs, the nation’s largest Greek system and a thrilling sports culture, there truly is no way to go wrong. Congratulations on officially becoming a part of Illini Nation, new students — take advantage of the school’s amazing opportunities and make your university career a special one.

    Nick is a Senior in LAS.

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