Rickie “Slick” Johnson dunks the ball during a 1984 game at Horton Field House. (Photo courtesy of the Dr. Jo Ann Rayfield Archives)

Every week, we use STATEside to take a look 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.

20 YEARS AGO (Week of March 11)

Illinois State’s self-described “first coed social fraternity” makes its debut on campus in the spring 1993 semester. The first group of 20 Pi Delta Chi members (16 women, four men) have been meeting for a few weeks already, led by chapter founder Jeff Adkins, a transfer student. Adkins says the group’s No. 1 goal is now admission into ISU’s Interfraternity Council. “If you think about it, the world is coed, so why shouldn’t there be coed fraternities?” said Rose Tuma, one of the founding members.


The Illinois State Redbirds earn their first bid to the top-tier NCAA men’s basketball tournament since moving to Division I hoops (back in 1970). Illinois State beat Tulsa, 84-64, in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game. Instead of being played a neutral site like it is today, the MVC title game in 1983 was played at Horton Field House. Redbird player Rickie “Slick” Johnson put up a career-high 22 points to lead the team, and “Slick” was named the Chevrolet Most Valuable Player by the CBS crew, earning him $1,000. He’s the first bench player to win the honor. ISU took on Ohio in Round 1. (The last time the Redbirds made the NCAA Tournament was 1998, led by now-coach Dan Muller.)


A sign of the times is published in the Vidette in March 1973. A new column debuts that will focus on what it’s like to be gay at Illinois State. Interestingly, and unlike other columns, it is published without an author’s name attached, with only “No Byline” displayed above the text. “The lack of a byline stems not from paranoia, but rather from a realistic viewpoint towards life,” the author writes. “There are people who take a sadistic pleasure in exposing a homosexual, resulting in loss of jobs, homes, and friends.” The occasional column will be written by multiple contributors, the author says.


This is why we (and by “we,” I mean students in 1963) can’t have nice things. The Television Room on the third floor of University Union is slated to be closed for the rest of the school year. There has been “considerable vandalism” of the room and other problems for several years, the Vidette reports, including “writing on walls, cutting chairs seats,” and “the personal conduct of some of the people using the room is such that it is not a credit to the University.” (We’ll let you, the reader, deduce what that means.) Fixes haven’t worked, and the University Union Board wants to shut it down. (Today’s iPad-watching student body probably wouldn’t have much use for a universitywide Television Room.)

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.