Tate: Welcome to campus, students
Hey, you wide-eyed rookies, your move is complete — wasn't that a hassle! — and you're heading into today's beginning of your cultural-educational adventure. My annual job is to help with the things that nearly 7,000 freshmen ought to know about C-U and the Big U.
Guys, don't get excited. The bird-dogs in your class can advise you where the young ladies hang out after dark, no help here. In that department, you're on your own.
— Party school? No. 4 in the nation? Maybe so, but that falls into the wild guess category, like some of Bob Asmussen's football predictions (he has Michigan No. 1????). But there is a strong rumor that fun lovers can buy a beer on campus, even if you can't at Saturday's football game.
— Now pay attention, freshmen, don't, Don't, DON'T go strolling home at 2 a.m. by yourself. There are too many reports of people being accosted. If you stick around after last call, be careful.
— If you're from Chicago and need a Bulls fix, they'll join Cleveland for an exhibition here Oct. 12. Can't help you with the Blackhawks. Shortage of seats around ice.
— Rest assured, after some bumpy years, UI leadership is in good hands. Bob Easter has been a longtime, respected staple on this campus, and the common-sense approach by Phyllis Wise has done 10 years worth of repair in one year.
— Don't get caught peeking into Memorial Stadium during football practice. Coach Tim Beckman has shut it down, and he won't allow your freshman classmates to speak to the media prior to the Big Ten opener with Penn State. Actually, Beckman is easing up. His previous rule was to keep his freshmen off limits all year.
— There's an important vote coming up, and you can register in Champaign County if you aren't using an absentee ballot from your home area. If you're an out-of-stater, your vote might matter. In Illinois, we already know.
— If you recognize Rayvonte Rice on campus, welcome the Champaign product back after two years at Drake. With no freshmen on scholarship, basketball coach John Groce has brought in two transfers: Rice, who must sit out a year, and immediately eligible Sam McLaurin. You'll like Groce. He's a friendly, energetic cross between golfer Jim Furyk and the still-breathing Woody Harrelson.
— Your fees are paying for bus service, Krannert discounts, Assembly Hall events and recreation centers, so take advantage of your ownership.
— Here's a repeat reminder. Most drivers have become aware of dozens of campus crosswalks, but some still forget (while they're on the cellphone) that they're obliged to stop in the middle of a street. So watch your step.
— Lucky you. Lincoln Hall is finished and brought glistening into the 21st century — Mr. Vice-President, I got my century correct — after a $58 million workover. Like me, you won't be able to imagine how the university operated nearly three years without it.
— If you run across a 230-pound guy laboring on crutches, that could be sophomore linebacker Henry Dickinson. Take his mind off his broken leg by asking about Elvis and Graceland. He's from Memphis.
— Illini volleyball is last in Big Ten standings with a 1-2 record and will fall from its No. 7 national ranking. But it's a hoot at Huff, and the price is right. Join the crowd and watch them bounce back.
— Wait'll you see the refurbished Alma Mater statue. It should be returned in sparkling shape prior to May commencement, and you'll be impressed. There's history there.
— Google or read up on Chief Illiniwek so you'll know why veteran fans cheer the "3-in-1" music at halftime of Saturday's football opener with Western Michigan. A lot of folks still love the Chief, banned after 81 years of dancing. And some cheer just to be rebellious, which is OK.
— You can be proud of this special school. Look downstate and you'll see SIU-Carbondale, down about 5,000 students from its 1991 high, with roughly 16,000 of 20,000 full time. First-year retention rate is under 70 percent. Regardless of the horror stories, the degree you're working for here is a lot more valuable than it would be elsewhere.
— At least five freshman football players will join your class in January. Beckman is beating the bushes for immediate help because eight of his defensive starters are seniors, and he'll bring newcomers in for spring practice wherever possible.
— Before you graduate in 2016, there's a chance the Assembly Hall will sport a new inner face. So join the Orange Krush now. It might really pay off in favorable seating down the road.
— Check out the Virginia Theatre when it opens anew in April ahead of Ebertfest. Krannert is more handy and inviting with its offerings, but you must visit the Virginia at some point. If they bring back Alison Krauss, don't miss it.
Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.