Cole Hall on the campus of Northern Illinois University is known more so for the Valentine's Day incident in 2008, where a gunman busted into a classroom...and we all know the tragedy that took place after that.
The whole ordeal hit home for me in two different ways:
- Being a 2005 graduate of NIU, I had many classes in those halls ranging from Geology to Math and was even was a place I'd sometimes sit and eat my lunch in if I didn't want to walk far from the main buildings that held most of the classes. It was the main large lecture hall, so almost anyone that took their general education classes at Northern, had some class there.
- Having my brother, a recent graduate of the Theater program, being in the building right next to Cole Hall at the time of the shooting. It was personally surreal as I was working in Chicago radio and being in one of the on-air studios watching the news unfold on TV, sixty miles away...being afraid to call my parents and ask if they had heard from my brother or knew anything of the situation.
Luckily my brother was safe in the locked down theater building and I personally wasn't permanently affected by the horrific events that occurred that day, but many others sadly did.
Today marks a new day and a new way to write the history of the hall...it's reopening today for the first time after a $6 million dollar renovation without any fancy ceremony or event.
For a graduate of the university, I share many good times and bad (but mostly good) from the 60115 zip code (six years post-graduation and I can still rattle it off my tongue)...but all the times that were had by myself and others were character and personality defining to who we are today.
I for one am happy that the campus has come to terms with the events that took place and rebuilt, just like the university's commitment to always move forward.
NIU grads (or attended even for a day/month/semester) out there...what are your feelings on Cole Hall reopening today?