Student Life at Illinois: 1970-1979


Police in rain gear and protective riot gear on Wright Street, near the Chi Omega sorority house, during protests in March 1970.
Police in rain gear and protective riot gear on Wright Street, near the Chi Omega sorority house, during protests in March 1970.


  • Afro-American Studies Commission established.
  • Black Law Students Association formed.
  • Students objected to installation of Illiac IV when it is discovered that two-thirds of the new computer’s time was reserved for the Department of Defense.
  • On February 24th, the ROTC lounge in the Armory was firebombed.
  • In wake of Illiac IV controversy, hundreds of students protested General Electric on-campus recruiting on March 2nd. Curfew imposed in response to protest. National Guardsmen called in to enforce curfew.
  • Following the March 2nd afternoon protest, Trustees canceled a planned evening appearance by attorney William Kunstler. The decision led to several days of demonstrations. Kunstler ultimately appeared on campus, speaking to a crowd of 6,519 at Assembly Hall on March 24th.
  • Students celebrated the first Earth Day.
  • President Henry announced retirement.
  • Teaching assistants formed Assistants Union.
  • Killings of four Kent State students on May 4th sparked a series of campus protests. Students went on strike. The National Guard mobilized again.
  • “Rap on Quad”–precursor to Quad Day–held.
  • Gay Liberation Front–offshoot of national group–organized on campus.
  • Record Service opened.
  • Yippie Festival of Life held at Armory.
  • Psychology Building opened.
  • University offered its first Women’s Studies course.


  • John Corbally succeeded David Henry as University president.
  • Black Law Student Association boycotted classes to obtain scholarships for 20 freshmen.
  • IMPE completed.
  • Women’s Week held on campus.
  • On May 6th, protesters demonstrated against Marine recruiting.
  • The Foreign Languages Building opened, becoming the first new edifice on the Quad in thirty years.
  • Women admitted to the University band.
  • “The Fountain of Diana”–a sculpture by Carl Milles– moved from the Time-Life building in Chicago to the Illini Union.
  • First official Quad Day held.
  • Tenant’s Union and Community Council founded.
Students studying,1970s
Students studying,1970s


  • Food service workers in University residence halls went on strike.
  • Black Student Association became the Coalition of Afrikan People.
  • Council on Program Evaluation (COPE) launched.
  • Music Building completed.
  • On April 20th, 800 people protested resumption of bombing over North Vietnam and burned an effigy of President Richard Nixon. Protests continued sporadically through mid-May.
  • Members of Gay Liberation Front picketed the Wigwam Bar, charging harrassment of gay patrons.
  • Some two thousand students, faculty and community members marched against the Vietnam War on May 4th.
  • Faculty-organized blockade at Chanute Air Force Base resulted in 38 arrests.
  • Irepodun–the first African-American students’ yearbook– published.
  • WPGU-FM began stereo broadcasting and moved from Oglesby Hall to the new Century 21 building.
The campus bar scene thrived as state law allowed 19-year-olds to drink beer and wine, circa 1976
The campus bar scene thrived as state law allowed 19-year-olds to drink beer and wine, circa 1976


  • Members of Coalition of Afrikan People demonstrated in support of appointive power on University committees, disciplinary code revision, and African-American community access to University facilities.
  • The Alumni Association celebrated its 100th anniversary.
  • Students at Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Hall formed the Black Student Committee at P.A.R., later renamed Salongo.
  • Some 300 students protested outbreak of war in Middle East.
  • State law revised, allowed 19-year-olds to drink beer and wine.
  • Measure passed providing for election of student trustees.
  • The 60-hour rule went into effect, requiring students to have junior status before living in housing not certified by the University. Previously, students had to complete 75 credit hours before they could live in non-certified housing.
  • Fire in Sigma Chi fraternity house caused an estimated $160,000 in damages.
  • December blizzard dumped a foot of snow on area.


  • African-American students protested University’s grading and financial aid policies.
  • Undergraduate Student Association and Graduate Student Association initiated free Student Legal Service.
  • University required students to earn at least a C to obtain course credit.
  • Streaking fad hit campus.
  • Board of Trustees withdrew Illini Union Board’s responsibility for policy-making and programming.
  • University formed Office of Minority Student Affairs.
  • Third and fourth floors of Clark Hall used for experiment in student-run housing.
  • Illini football player Greg Williams shot and killed at a fraternity party.
  • First National Women’s Festival held.
  • Women’s Wheels started. Program offered rides for women at night and would later be re-named NiteRides.
  • La Casa Cultural Latina founded.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Members, circa 1975
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Members, circa 1975


  • Artificial turf installed at Memorial Stadium.
  • Athletic scholarships made available to women for the first time.
  • The Board of Trustees gave each student trustee an advisory vote.
  • Lou Henson named coach of men’s basketball team.
  • Article “A Challenge to the Chief” appeared in the Illio. The article contained statements critical of Chief Illiniwek and mentioned that the symbol of the Chief was removed from University stationery.
  • The Campus Council on Program Education advised that the College of Communications be abolished.
  • Gay Illini formed.
  • Orange Crunch (the Crush, now Krush) formed
  • Halloween street disturbance led to 18 arrests.
  • Six campus buildings damaged in series of arson fires.


  • The School of Medicine opened in Peoria.
  • A committee organized to save the College of Communications.
  • Thirteen cherry trees were planted north of Lincoln Hall as a bicentennial gift from the Japan Illini Club.
  • In a temporary experiment, Wright Street north to John Street was closed to all traffic except for buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles.


  • First Hash Wednesday held on campus.
  • Star Wars was shown for 26 straight weeks at the Virginia Theater in Champaign.
  • The City of Champaign and the UI Division of Campus Recreation sponsored year’s Halloween festivities.
  • The Johnstown Centre mall opened on campus.
  • Illini Pride founded.
  • Speech and Hearing Clinic completed.
  • A program honoring African-American alumni brought 300-400 alumni back to campus.
  • Because of weather conditions, Daily Illini failed to publish on December 10th. The newspaper also did not publish on January 26-27, 1978.
Photo from a story about married students with children on campus and a caption accompanying it that reads, "Nura El Hamdy and her son, Kaled, wait at the Orchard Downs Laundromat."
Photo from a story about married students with children on campus and a caption accompanying it that reads, “Nura El Hamdy and her son, Kaled, wait at the Orchard Downs Laundromat.”


  • University canceled classes on January 25th because of weather: 6 inches of snow and a wind-chill factor of fifty-degrees below zero.
  • The University Library adopted a computerized circulation system.
  • University President John Corbally resigned
  • Student Organization Resource Fee (SORF) initiated.
  • Undergraduate Student Association merged with Graduate Student Association to become Champaign-Urbana Student Association.
  • Friends of the Auditorium organized in bid to raise money for Auditorium renovation.
  • First disco opened on campus.
  • Anti-apartheid protesters placed chains on arms of Alma Mater in symbolic statement.
  • Three social work graduate students wrote piece critical of Chief Illiniwek in Daily Illini Forum.
  • Wright Street re-opened to traffic amid student protest.


  • Daily Illini Forum featured writer critical of Chief Illiniwek.
  • Stanley Ikenberry became 14th president of the University.

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