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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

New mural is welcoming, despite students’ reactions

Ariyonna McGahee
Cars passing the NIU mural on the underpass of South Annie Glidden Road and Lincoln Highway. One side of the mural reads “NIU” and the other “Huskie Nation” with paw prints on each side. (Ariyonna McGahee | Northern Star)

Long referred to as “Huskie Nation,” it’s no secret that DeKalb loves its NIU students. Now with a freshly painted mural of red and black, it’s hard to not find the city’s enthusiasm adorable.

The mural, painted by the Street Operations Division of DeKalb on the Annie Glidden underpass, features white Huskie pawprints and the university’s logo. Passersby have no chance of forgetting the city’s dedication to NIU.

Completed just in time for the start of the 2023-2024 school year, perhaps the mural will serve as a reminder to both returning students and nervous freshmen that they’re wanted. 

It makes sense that Barb City should want to celebrate our pack of Huskies. DeKalb’s population totals at 40,486, according to the 2021 US Census Bureau. NIU’s enrollment for the 2023-2024 term, 14,364, is about 35% of that total. 

Our university is also incredibly significant to the reputation and pride of the city, with campus events, sports games and school organizations bringing reasons to celebrate to DeKalb citizens. 

Not everyone feels the mural is completely necessary, however. Freshmen Blair Jackson, a history major, Naimah Lumpkin and Jasmine Miller, both psychology majors, feel the new mural is a bit overboard for a design that’s already all over the city. 

“I like the mural, but I just don’t understand the purpose,” Lumpkin said. “When I was on my way here I was like: ‘They’re doing way too much.’”

 “I also feel like they used, like, kinda the same designs. Like I wanna see something new and different,” Miller said.

But there’s something especially wholesome and sweet about a small town that is completely obsessed with its local university. 

Everywhere students go throughout DeKalb they are met with support and decoration: red and black colors, hanging NIU street flags and Huskies themed merch. The new mural is simply another testament to that love. 

“It’s cute but corny,” as Jackson put it, and maybe corny’s okay.

With luck, DeKalb will never stop finding peculiar delight in barbed wire, corn or NIU pride, and whether we find the new mural too much or too little, at least we know that as Huskies – we’re welcome here.

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