The Ten BIGGEST News Stories of the Semester

By Derek Wright

Fifteen Northern Star editors sat down Sunday evening to determine what we considered to be the top ten news stories of this past semester.

What started as a list of 17 stories slowly (and painfully) was whittled down to the final ten that you see here. Stories were picked based on significance, reader interest, and most importantly, local impact.

The biggest stories of the semester are listed in no particular order because we wanted to avoid trivializing their importance.

Hurricane Summer

originally published 09.06.05

The country was hit with a wave of hurricanes this year causing devastating effects on some southern states. Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm, hit and destroyed New Orleans, other parts of Louisiana and parts of Mississippi. The hurricane created a wave of evacuees and strong criticism of the local, state and national government agencies’ responses to the disaster. Lessons learned from Katrina helped the country prepare for Hurricane Rita. Students and DeKalb residents assisted victims though numerous fundraising efforts. Some DeKalb residents helped by going to affected areas and lending a hand.

Record gas prices

originally published 08.24.05

Typically higher in the summer time, gas prices shot further skyward following the hurricanes in the South. Around $2.50 people started grumbling, but once prices got over $3, gas-and-dashes became a little too common for local law enforcement officials. Prices have leveled-off a bit, and the country survived its first genuine serious bout with energy supply since the ‘70s.

Area car dealerships saw an increase in the sale of fuel-efficient cars such as the Honda Civic and Accord.

It’s a White Sox winner

originally published 10.27.05

Hundreds of fans celebrated the Chicago White Sox’s historic World Series sweep after the win Oct. 26 by taking to the streets of DeKalb.

The mob of fans gathered more people as it moved through King Memorial Commons, made its way down Russell Road until reaching Greek Row. The group swept around to Annie Glidden, heading to Huskie Stadium and back to the MLK Commons.

Police monitored the mob, which set off fireworks and fog-horns, and committed other acts of minor mischief, but made no arrests in the celebration of the White Sox’s first World Series title since 1917.

Zipped out of a bowl

originally published 12.02.05

After beating conference rival Toledo Nov. 16 for the first time since 1989, the NIU football team topped Western Michigan the next week to advance to its first ever MAC Championship game.

The Huskies looked for their first MAC title since 1983 – before the start of West and East divisions – but fell to Akron 31-30 in the final seconds of the championship game Dec. 1 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Sycamore murder

originally published 10.10.05

A drug deal gone bad resulted in the murder of Sycamore resident Frank Riccardi Oct. 7. An autopsy revealed the 23-year-old Riccardi died from injuries caused by a blunt object, although police did not find a weapon at the crime scene. Eric Laskowski of Kirkland was charged with Riccardi’s murder. The murder was quickly solved with the help of community members.

Jackson visits NIU

originally published 10.21.05

On Oct. 20, the Rev. Jesse Jackson visited NIU’s campus. He gave a speech about voting rights in the Altgeld Hall auditorium and stressed thinking globally and using the vote locally. In his speech, Jackson tied ignorance to voting with President Bush’s ignorance about Hurricane Katrina. The auditorium was completely filled and Jackson answered some questions after speaking.

Mold found in res. halls

originally published 10.04.05

Mold began to appear in Stevenson North in August after the air conditioning was turned off between summer and fall semesters. Though mold can be harmless for some people, those with respiratory problems such as asthma, seasonal allergies or mold allergies can suffer from flu-like symptoms. Humidity levels inside students’ rooms reached 68 to 80 percent, which is at least 8 percent higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended reasonable range. Tests conducted by Environmental Health and Safety concluded the mold was found to be in a reasonable range, though experts said any amount of mold can be potentially harmful. To combat the problem, students living in the affected areas were instructed to keep their air conditioning on until further notice. While some students reported experiencing symptoms similar to that associated with mold, none of these symptoms were proven to be directly caused by the mold growth.

DeKalb dries up

originally published 10.19.05

This summer’s drought was almost fantastic. Were it not for last year’s record season to buoy this year’s bittersweet ending, it would have matched that level of superlative description. Talk to any farmer mid-summer, and they were worried about the corn. A month later, it was the soybeans. A heavy snow season last January enriched the subsoil with moisture, but once the plants dug deep and depleted that store, the situation worsened. September predictions put overall yields down almost 30 percent, but that number weakened to about 15 percent when all was counted. Bittersweet, then.

Provost retires

originally published 09.30.05

On Sept. 30, it was announced that Provost Ivan Legg, 67, would retire effective July 1, 2006. Legg has worked in higher education for over 50 years and worked at NIU for four years. He lived in Stevenson during his first year working at NIU. President John Peters said replacing Legg will be a difficult task, but he hopes to have a new provost named by the end of spring 2006.

Donors lay foundation

originally published 10.17.05

On Oct. 15, NIU unveiled the completion of its first donor-funded building, the $6.2 million Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center, before the NIU football team’s 99th Homecoming game against Eastern Michigan.

A little more than a month later, the administrators broke ground on another donor-funded building, the Academic and Athletic Performance Facility during a halftime ceremony of the Huskies’ final home game against Western Michigan.

The AAPC, which has a proposed price tag of $9.5 million, will be used primarily by the NIU football team as a practice facility and will be built by the north end zone of Huskie Stadium. According to construction documents, the most recent estimate of the building’s cost was $11.2 million, but administrators hope to push the cost down further.