Ringing back tradition

By Kristin Caveretta

Patrick DeGeorge, a senior general studies major, has waited four years to see NIU students compelled to bring back one lost NIU tradition.

After the hopeful clinch of the MAC West Division on Saturday, he hopes to see the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Victory Bell used for what it was originally intended.

Located on the island in front of DuSable Hall, the wooden red-and-black fixture stands forming the N-I symbol, which holds NIU’s Victory Bell.

According to NIU’s history archives, the bell was purchased from a local school district with proceeds from the APO fraternity’s Ugliest Man on Campus contests of 1957 and 1958, with the intention of giving NIU a “tradition rich in purpose” while promoting good sportsmanship.

The bell was to be rung after successful NIU athletic events and United States victories. It rang for the first time to celebrate a Huskie football win over Eastern Illinois University in 1960.

NIU wide receiver Dan Sheldon had no idea NIU had any kind of tradition to celebrate NIU victories in the past but is in favor of installing a way to celebrate successful athletics at NIU, like this year’s football team.

“We have been working really hard this year and take a lot of pride in our team,” he said. “I think it would be great to bring back a tradition like that.”

However, over the decades, the bell has become a silent landmark that leaves many students wondering what it is.

DeGeorge became familiar with the bell as a freshman and has wondered why we don’t make use of it.

“There are no traditions with NIU,” he said. “We need to set something to get the students motivated and involved.”

As a member of the Huskie Marching Band, DeGeorge believes there can be a post-game march to the bell where students can celebrate a victory with the ringing of the bell.

He remembers a losing football season a few years ago where the student section was barely one-quarter full. Now with record-breaking crowds anticipated for the game against Toledo, DeGeorge thinks it would be a great time to rekindle a lost tradition.

Current APO President Marc Gorecki also would like to see the tradition restored at NIU and has tentative plans for the fraternity to renovate the bell hopefully in time for the chapter’s 75th anniversary this spring.

“We want to repaint it and maybe landscape,” he said. “We definitely take a lot of pride in the bell.”

As one of the biggest signs in their chapter history, it’s an element that is highlighted to all new members.

According to Gorecki, occasionally some APO members will go to the bell after football games, but over the years, the rope that used to hang from the bell has been torn down, making it difficult to ring the bell loud enough to be heard across campus.

He hopes maybe the fraternity can restart an official Victory Bell tradition with the university athletics department next year.