STATEside looks back at the recent and not-so recent past, using the archives at the Vidette.

If you recall any of the campus happenings referenced in our This Week in Illinois State History feature, feel free to post in the Comments below.

Previous weeks: October 12 | October 19 | October 26 | November 2


The 2,000-plus residents at Watterson Towers are in for a treat when they return from winter break. The staff at Student Technology Support Services plans to have the entire 28-story residence hall wired for high-speed Internet access, a new system called ResNet. ResNet began seven years earlier (1995) as a pilot program in Smith House at Watterson. Other residence halls were then hooked in, with all of Watterson next, followed by Central Campus. (By 2004, every student in every room would be hooked into ResNet with their own jack. Back in 1995, students living on campus were still accessing the Internet via dial-up connection.) Today, Illinois State is a partner in a much larger Internet connectivity project called the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Network, or CIRBN, which looks to bridge the digital divide by bringing high-speed Web access to underserved areas.


Coming soon to Illinois State: 18 emergency telephones with blue lights that will be placed at strategic places across campus. When someone in distress picks up the phone, they are instantaneously connected to the Illinois State University Police Department. Similar phones were recently installed at nearby Illinois Wesleyan. (Keep in mind: Cell phones were not standard issue for incoming students back in 1992.) “It is going to provide instant communication for many areas,” said ISU Police Capt. Don Knapp. Today, University Police is also a partner in Redbird Safe Walk, a service open to students, faculty, and staff who would like an escort for increased safety when walking to and from on-campus locations.


Alumni who lived at Watterson Towers over the years have tackled elevator waits and the occasional fire alarm, but 148 students in November 1982 survived a nuclear reactor disaster. Sure, it was only a “mock” disaster, but it sounded like fun. The exercise was centered around a fictitious radiation leak from the Cripple Creek Nuclear Reactor, forcing students into the basement of Watterson to survive on only water and graham crackers. The students were monitored by researchers from an Illinois State disaster-preparedness class. Of the 148 students involved, only 117 “survived” the exercise.


Illinois State Normal University has a new mascot, a Redbird, but he’s missing a nickname. “How has your imagination been lately?” a brief on the Vidette’s front page on November 8, 1952, begins. The lucky student who helps name the Redbird “may win a set of cuff links or a charm bracelet.” Next week: The Mirror Room of McCormick Gym will host tryouts for any student interested in embodying the first Redbird mascot. However, it wasn’t until 1981 that Reggie became known as “Reggie” to his fans, when he was coined “Reggie Redbird” by the Junior Redbird Club after baseball great, Reggie Jackson.

Ryan Denham can be reached at