By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
This weekend I’m back at my old stomping ground, IU Bloomington, where I spent my undergrad and grad school years. This is Mom’s Weekend at my daughter’s sorority house. Blowing in to town around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, I met my daughter at her house, handed her the cooler filled with Italian Easter bread, Italian lamb cake, Belgian bunny cookies, and homemade tortellini. After checking into our hotel, we sped off for a late dinner at The Uptown Cafe.
This particular Mom’s Weekend is a milestone of sorts: After her May graduation, no more Mom’s Weekends, no more Little 500 weekends. Nostalgia washes over me. While she’s working at the School of Journalism, I’m imbibing a Venti Zen tea at Starbucks in the IU Memorial Union, a sprawling Indiana limestone structure with gothic windows reminiscent of medieval England. The cacophony of students and faculty seated at the morass of tables in this large Starbucks is upbeat. It’s Friday; today’s sunshine promises a sun-drenched weekend. Classes end later this month, so soon, so sadly, but not for the students, I’m certain. The rapid passage of these four years takes my breath away.
She chose IU Bloomington over Loyola-Chicago. Not that I don IU spirit wear on game weekends, although Hoosier Fever was endemic during the legendary Bobby Knight years. With Bobby at the epicenter of IU basketball, we students circled in his orb. We spilled out on to Kirkwood Avenue, celebrating wildly after the NCAA Championship wins. Good times. Anjelica has had classes in Ballantine, where I savored almost every English class during my undergrad years. She has walked much the same routes that I did on her daily campus treks. She is fortunate that the School of Journalism stands on the original, the prettiest part of the campus. IU is a limestone wonder, but the older buildings remind one of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. During her first two years, Anjelica was ensconced in Collins Living and Learning Center, located a block from the “J-School”. Collins played up its kinship to the Harry Potter books and movies. After she pledged the sorority, she initially missed Collins’ Disco Calzone Nights.
I remember the raging intellectual curiosity of the 1970’s on the campus: The anti-Vietnam War protests; the combative Feminist Movement; civil disobedience; the fall-out from 1964’s Civil Rights Act; and Watergate. While protests still occur on the campus, they lack the mammoth national proportions of protests of yore. Yet as I gaze around me, a surge of hope washes over me. This generation may lack the passion we had of the ‘70’s, but students are poised to explore the depths of commitments, no less intellectually challenged in this 21st century. I remain hopeful for the future through the leadership of students like my daughter.
My alma mater, flawed though she may be, nonetheless stands tall. Big Red Rules!
Ciao for now.