Alumnae reflect on their time at Illinois

Before the days of Facebook, Tinder, online class registration and air conditioning, our school looked very different. Tuition was significantly cheaper, rules were less strict and there were no co-ed dorms. We emailed current students’ moms and grandmas who attended the University in the 1960s, 70s and 80s to hear about some of their experiences.


“There were no co-ed dorms, and only juniors and seniors were allowed to have cars on campus. All sorority members had to live in the house all four years. I lived in the exact same house that my granddaughter lives in today.” — Glenda Sirota, Class of 1962

“I lived in Illini Tower for two years, and it was a blast. We had water fights and pulled pranks quite often. The RA’s were not strict about anything.” —Randie Chubin, Class of 1985

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    “We had ‘Stunt Show’ and many fraternity/sorority exchanges, which is one of many reasons students wanted to be part of the Greek system.” — Sirota

    “A new dating system to meet other students was created when I was a sophomore. This could be looked at as a very first pre-dating network. Many of my friends, including myself, tried this Illinois match-up for fun.” — Robin O’Connor, Class of 1977

    “My freshman year, I bonded with two of my roommates, and we did almost everything together. We went to bars, for meals, shopping, dancing at a bar off campus called Bradley’s, parties and worked at the Illini Tower cafeteria.” — Chubin


    “Academic life was not as challenging as it is today. You only had to live in the state of Illinois to be accepted (and of course be a high school graduate in good standing). Tuition was $100 per semester and went up to $125 when they began building Assembly Hall.” — Sirota

    “One of the most dramatic differences was signing up for classes. If the class was filled, too bad, you needed to go to another line. There was no air conditioning, so it was a hot and long process. Somehow, everyone ended up with a working schedule.” — O’Connor

    “My required anatomy class consisted of working on real cadavers. These included not just human bodies, but buckets of real body parts. My first aid class involved me giving CPR to my classmates directly. Imagine that in today’s training.” — O’Connor

    “I had a huge amount of papers to write. I pulled many all-nighters in the lounge area until someone offered to type for me at $1 a page. I had so many papers that he began charging me only $0.75 a page, then $0.50, until it became, ‘Okay, just take me out for dinner.’” — Chubin 

    Extracurricular Activities:

    “I was involved in Hillel because it had a special meaning for me. My grandfather founded the U of I Hillel, which was the first Hillel. I was active in Kappa Delta Pi, the Education Honorary, and I served as an officer.” — Sirota

    “We had Girls Powderpuff Football Teams. It was not uncommon for us to put scary makeup on to face our opponents. My team was quite good, and we actually had physical contact. It was a very competitive team sport.” — O’Connor

    “I was in Alpha Phi Omega, which was a major reason I loved U of I. I loved how multicultural it was. We had group community service projects every weekend. APO is very different now because it got so big. We had about 40 in a pledge class, now I think there are 200. When I was in it, you knew almost everyone by name, and most people came to move service projects. Recently, a member from my pledge class passed away and the rest of us are now reconnecting through Facebook.” — Chubin


    Funny or Significant Stories:

    “When I was able to attend the recent AEPhi alumni weekend, I was able to stand at the foot of the stairs with Hannah’s Papa (who lived in the frat house across the street which is now a modern apartment building) where we first met on a blind date 56 years ago. It was surreal for me.” — Sirota

    “I went to U of I during the time of ‘Streakers.’ Students everywhere were streaking through classes, as well as groups of students marching naked through the quad. Who could ever forget that?” — O’Connor

    “One guy used to always pass out in the lounge area of our dorm, so one day, I painted his finger nails hot pink.”— Chubin

    “Our floor had a birthday tradition of throwing him or her into a cold shower. We once wet and froze a neighbor’s underwear in his own freezer as retaliation.” — Chubin

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