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Future of NIU’s Cole Hall Uncertain

By Jacy Wojcik in News on Mar 5, 2008 8:16PM

3_5_2008_ColeHall.jpg Last week's announced plan from Governor Blagojevich to tear down Cole Hall has been met with great backlash amongst state lawmakers, NIU staff and students. An email sent yesterday from Northern Illinois University President John Peters to students and faculty put a hold on the Governor’s plan and called for campus-wide discourse regarding the fate of the 40-year-old building. Peters said the future of Cole Hall should “represent a consensus opinion” of the university community.

Everybody wants to have a say about the future of Cole Hall: State lawmakers are uncertain about shelling out $40 million to tear down a building. Some faculty members believe that tearing it down will not do anything to aid in the healing process so many community members are struggling with. Students also want a voice in the fate of Cole Hall and several have even started a group calling for the preservation of building.

Even Mayor Daley threw in his two cents saying, “You can’t tear every building down…Unfortunately, there have been a number of killings- both in and around high schools or elementary schools… It wasn’t the building that did it. It was the opportunity of someone getting a gun in Illinois.”

What should be done with it? Blagojevich’s initial plan was to (tear it down, clearly) and build a "state-of-the-art learning facility." However, many want it to follow the way of Norris Hall, the site of the Virginia Tech shootings, which is in use as a Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention. Others simply want a memorial to be built. Is there even a “right” way to handle this decision? And ultimately, whose decision should it be? [Trib, Sun-Times]

Photo by kapgar