Letters To The Editor (Online Exclusive)

New names show lack of strong NU traditions

Things are changing at Northwestern. Security, the Lakefill and, of course, the Starbucks currently under construction in Norris University Center. However, Starbucks isn’t the only change at Norris. The meeting room names, long bemoaned by students and staff alike, also are being changed. The goal, apparently, is to find something that reflects Northwestern. This brings up an interesting dilemma, as Northwestern has few strong traditions or landmarks to draw upon.

One of the new names is “Rock Room.” Hooray! We paint a rock. So does Michigan. At Carnegie Mellon they paint a fence. Big whoop. Among the other names are “Wildcat Room,” “Arch Room,” “Chicago Room” and “Eighteen Fifty-One Room.”

My beef isn’t with the names, but with the traditional bankruptcy they represent. These names have about as much meaning for NU students as they do for high schoolers looking through Northwestern brochures. How exactly does one experience The Arch? Who among us will feel cool going to a meeting in the “Scholars Room”? The new room names show a university ignoring the present and reaching deep into the past. Apart from the “Armadillo Room,” few or none of the rooms will evoke pleasant memories about proud Northwestern traditions.

Sadly, First Friday was a certified flop and an attempt to “Bring Back the Marshmallow!” caused a swift and decisive backlash from many administrators, including football coach Pat Fitzgerald himself. Dillo Day stands as the lone monolith on almost all Northwestern calendars, day planners and PDAs. At this point it would almost make more sense to name the rooms after the fraternities and sororities, since they seem to have a stronger sense of tradition than the university itself. At least then some students could feel as though they were walking down memory lane, instead of a Norris hallway.

Looking through an old Northwestern yearbook, I saw photos of an event referred to as “The Chug.” Students appeared to be chugging beer in large open spaces in what was undoubtedly a planned event. I felt a wave of curiosity and loss. Where did this tradition go? How long has it been forgotten? Where is our Chug? Where is it? The lack of central traditions and activities consistently drives students into cliques, niches, fraternities and sororities. We walk up and down campus every day passing hundreds of people we will never meet. United we stand, divided we Fall, Winter and Spring.

– David SanoMcCormick juniorNorris house staff supervisor

Louis-Dreyfus represents diverse interests at NU

A previous letter-writer complaining about the 2007 commencement speaker asked what Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been doing the last 10 years. Well, for one thing, she’s starring in “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and won an Emmy for it. Also, while politicians are usually good speakers, representatives from other professions can be, too. NU is a diverse place, full of people with different interests. The School of Communication is an important part of NU, and Ms. Louis-Dreyfus is an alum (as is her husband, Brad Hall).

– Alice Crancer RudolphWeinberg ’79former Daily staffer