Student Life at Illinois: 1880-1889



  • Students protested new military regulations. Six of the “rebelling” students were expelled, and then re-admitted.
  • Seniors were released from compulsory drill.
  • Cadet uniforms changed from grey to blue.
  • Delta Tau Delta re-organized.
  • Board of Trustees officially removed prayer and the reading of scripture from its order of business.
  • Regent Gregory resigned and Selim Peabody was appointed acting regent.
  • Under editor Charles Dennis, Illini changed from a monthly semi-literary journal to a semi-monthly newspaper.


  • University group performed opera “Maud Muller” in a Champaign theater.
  • Peabody named regent.
  • Voters outlawed saloons in Champaign and Urbana.
  • Junior-senior class rivalry began after juniors tarred and feathered class tree planted by seniors.
  • Kappa Kappa chapter of Sigma Chi formed.
  • Faculty banned the playing of baseball near University Hall.
  • Board of Trustees called the existence of fraternities “unwise and detrimental to the best interests of the institution.”
  • Faculty prohibited smoking in University buildings.
  • Urbana supporters of “football” erected goalposts on the campus.
The Sophograph, circa 1885 Found in Record Series 41/8/806
The Sophograph, circa 1885


  • Faculty required students to pledge not to join fraternities. Fraternity members lobbied Illinois Legislature in effort to get Board of Trustees to rescind pledge. Sigma Chi continued undercover existence as the Ten Tautological Tautogs.
  • The first Sophograph yearbook was published by the sophomores.
  • Illinois joined State Baseball Association.
  • Faculty asserted control over the Illini.
  • Regent Peabody published Rules for the Government of Students in the Illinois Industrial University. One of these rules required students to take matriculation pledge.
  • Dora Andrus became the first woman to head the College Government.


  • Society of Political Education formed.
  • Baseball and football associations merged to become Athletic Association. New group sponsored first successful Field Day.
  • Trustees abolished College Government.
  • Two seniors expelled for presentations given during Class Day exercises.
  • Illinois won state intercollegiate baseball contest.
  • Student control of Illini invested in an Illini Board closely supervised by the regent and faculty.
Carlos Montezuma, first Native American graduate of the University, circa 1884
Carlos Montezuma, first Native American graduate of the University, circa 1884


  • Committee of alumni was formed to advocate change of university’s name.
  • Stephen A. Forbes named professor of zoology.
  • Faculty adopted demerit system. A total of 200 demerits led to expulsion.
  • YWCA founded.
  • Carlos Montezuma became the first Native American graduate of the University.
  • Political meeting led to arrest of two students.


  • Foster North unsuccessfully petitioned Board of Trustees to set aside decision to withhold his diploma because of failure to attend compulsory chapel services. North would take his appeal all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1891.
  • Illinois Industrial University re-named University of Illinois.



University Chapel, 1878
University Chapel, 1878


  • Board of Trustees rejected demand made by the Grand Council of Sigma Chi that the University admit fraternities.
  • Legislature approved bill calling for the election of Trustees by popular vote.
  • Illinois won state intercollegiate baseball contest.


  •  University admitted the first African-American student, Jonathan Rogan.
  • Regent Peabody’s salary was fixed at $4,000 a year.
Architectural Drafting Room, 1888
Architectural Drafting Room, 1888


  • A college yell was adopted: “Rah Hoo Rah, Zip Boom Ah, Hip Zoo Ra Zoo, Jimmy blow your Bazoo, Ip-sid-di-i-ki, U. of I., Champaign.”
  • Sophomores attempted to disrupt the Freshman Sociable banquet and dance. Freshmen retaliated by publishing bogus Sophograph.


  • Adelphic, Alethenai and Philomathean societies formed an inter-society oratorical association.
  • University women sought a gymnasium from the Trustees. Board decided that it was inadvisable for women to take calisthenics.
  • University joined Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
  • First Technograph published.
  • First athletic meet of intercollegiate association won by Illinois.
  • Thomas Burrill named acting regent during Peabody’s absence.

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