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Save Cole Hall

Well, Blago and the president of NIU have hit a new low. They're planning on tearing down Cole Hall to build something called Memorial Hall in its place, because - in the words of NIU President John Peters - students couldn't be expected to return to Cole.

Pardon my insensitivity, but hogwash! They're talking $3 million "upfront money" just to get the bonds issued. (Total project cost: $40 million.)

I'm surprised Mayor Daley's missed the boat on this all these years. Why not tear down every Chicago public school that's had a shooting at or near it, and build a new one? Surely elementary- and high-school kids are much more sensitive than college kids. How can we expect them to keep showing up in class?

And why not tear up and repave every road that's seen a fatal crash? We can't expect motorists to drive by the site of such horrors every day! Why, that might have been them pulverized by that truck.

Don't get me wrong. I have a world of sympathy for the victims of that horrible Valentine's Day massacre at Northern. But even if we did have the money for this plan, I hope I've pointed out the absurdity of the whole thing. Bad things happen in the world, and it's up the the survivors to carry on. Everything can't be turned into a shrine.

Put a plaque on the wall, and move on. To do otherwise perpetuates the notion of a "victim society" where everyone believes they're entitled to some redress or special treatment to soothe their soul. Where do you draw the line? How many dead before you have to tear down an entire building? Is five the number? What if it's only four but the killing was really horrible? What if nobody was killed but there were twenty people wounded?

The best way to honor the victims is to continue to use Cole Hall as a place of learning. And if the killer were trying to gain some notoriety by his actions (and we may never know why he went on his rampage that day), the best way to negate that effort is certainly not to turn the whole site into sacred ground.

Take the money and endow a scholarship for students interested in entering the mental health field. Maybe that will keep future students at Cole Hall safe. A new building certainly will not.

*

Comments welcome. As always, include a real name if you wish to be considered for publication.



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Posted on February 28, 2008


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