The following article was published on April Fools’ Day 2016:
When students return to campus for the fall 2016 semester, they might notice a few changes to Illinois State’s iconic Quad—most notably the absence of one entire side.
University officials announced Friday plans to convert Illinois State’s Quad into the country’s first “Tri,” shorthand for a three-sided public green space at the center of campus.
Remaking the Quad into the Tri was not originally in the vision to reshape Illinois State’s 1,000-acre campus. Yet as plans to demolish unused campus buildings and begin construction of a new fine arts complex came to fruition, administrators saw redefining the Quad as a timely opportunity, said Elaine Plum, Illinois State’s senior chief grounds planner.
“If Quads are a dime a dozen, then Tris are at least a quarter a dozen.” —Erik Colcord
While controversial, the plan has been hailed as an innovative way to differentiate the Illinois State campus and recruit the next generation of Redbirds. Currently, 92 percent of U.S. college campuses have a Quad. Illinois State will be one of the first to feature a Tri.
“Illinois State actively seeks to recruit the best and brightest students,” said Erik Colcord, vice dean of student retention. “Everything we can do to differentiate campus matters. If Quads are a dime a dozen, then Tris are at least a quarter a dozen.”
Friday’s announcement was met with widespread skepticism from the student body. Yet some applauded the plan.
“I have never been a big fan of the Quad,” said Anthony Cezaro, a sophomore in the Department of Bureaucratic Studies. “It was greed and excess in the first place that led to us having a green place with four sides. If the bloated Quad hadn’t been cut down to size now, who knows how far it could have gone? One day students might be forced to trudge across a ‘Quint’ or a ‘Sext’ to get to class.”
Critics worried about the fate of the Quad’s many trees, which are part of the Fell Arboretum, need not worry. Administrators and faculty have arranged that any tree removed be repurposed as building materials for a campus ecology center, which will be placed on the former southeast section of the Quad.
“When I first heard of the plans to demolish part of Illinois State’s green space, I was outraged,” said Doug Meadows, professor of arboreal and ecological studies. “However my colleagues and I soon realized that these beautiful trees could be recycled into beautiful logs, and that those beautiful logs could become the beautiful walls for our campus ecology center.
“I can think of no better setting to teach the importance of ecology and preservation,” he added.
Clearing up confusion
The northwest corner of the 490-acre Quad will vanish, replaced with new premium parking spaces for students. Permits will cost more than other areas of campus due to its central location, with proceeds earmarked for new scholarships. The remaining 245-acre triangle on the southeast corner of the former Quad will become the Tri.
To alleviate possible confusion between the new Tri and the Tri Towers—Haynie, Wright, and Wilkins halls—a fourth tower will be constructed on West Campus. The fourth tower will be named Milner Hall after the University library named after Ange Milner. Once construction of Milner Hall is complete, officials plan to retire the moniker Tri Towers and refer to the new complex as the Quad.
“That way, it’s 100 percent clear,” said Plum.
Demolition of the central campus Quad is scheduled to begin after spring commencement. A grounds planning subcommittee is currently live-trapping all squirrels for relocation and deciding on the color scheme campus lumberjacks and lumberjills will wear.
No word yet on whether those hired for the project will be required to have a beard or if they will be provided with one.
Steven Barcus can be reached at SocialNetworks@IllinoisState.edu.