Indiana University, originally called the “State Seminary,” was founded by the Indiana state government in 1820 in response to legislation passed requiring the establishment of an affordable public college. The school adopted the name “Indiana University” in 1838. In 1867, IU became one of the first universities to admit women and the first female student, Sarah Parke Morrison, went on to become the first female professor in 1873. Clergy continued to lead and guide the school until 1885, when a biologist became president.
The first satellite campus in Indianapolis opened in 1917 and since then IU has continued to expand into Bloomington and to Kokomo and Fort Wayne. The Kinsey Institute opened in 1947 under the supervision of Alfred Kinsey, an IU zoologist and entomologist, who wanted to study human sexual behavior. The institute published its controversial findings, known as the Kinsey Reports, in 1948 and 1953.
IU’s 1,900-acre campus is consistently ranked one of the most impressive in the country for its classic, limestone buildings, many of which date back to the Great Depression, landscaping, picturesque Jordan River, and arboretum. Students often wander the intertwining Arboretum paths through the woods, lie out on the grass and nap during the warm months, or take their laptops out by the pond to do homework. Other outdoor spots are also popular gathering places: Woodburn Field fills with people on pretty days and the tailgating fields south of the stadium are packed before every football game.
The Indiana Memorial Union, one of the main points of pride of IU and the second largest in the country, is a massive structure that contains a bowling alley and a hotel, as well as fast food restaurants and lounges. This is a popular stop for students in between classes in search of a place to study or sleep.
The Wells Library, a massive 11-story building, features a mall-like food court in the basement with tables and wireless internet. The Hoosier Den, a restaurant that accepts meal points, is located below the Gresham Food Court. It offers individual pizzas and various types of breakfast foods until the early hours of morning and is a popular stop among students coming back from late-night parties.
When students feel the need to work out some stress, they head to the SRSC (Student Recreational and Sports Center), with its Olympic-sized pool, track, cardio and weight room, racquetball and basketball courts, gym with free classes, and weight rooms.
The famous IU art museum was designed by I.M. Pei to have no right angles and is considered one of the top five university museums in the country.
Bloomington, Indiana is a model college town. Located about 50 miles south of Indianapolis, Bloomington is the 7th largest city in Indiana with a population of 69,291 and a size of roughly 20 square miles. Bloomington was named among the top walking cities in the country by Prevention magazine. It is an ethnically diverse town, thanks to IU’s student body, and also very liberal. The landscape is hilly with vast amounts of limestone everywhere; in fact most campus buildings are made of limestone.”
Locals in town are very friendly and there are tons of things to do on the weekends. You can go see a movie, go to the bars, eat at an Afghani restaurant, go rock climbing, spelunking, hiking, or camping, just to name a few.
The most well-known tradition on the IU campus is IU basketball. The school has five national championships and a history of great coaches like Bobby Knight. Even though students gripe that games are overpriced, they continue to attend, wearing the traditional red-and-white striped pants that the team warms up in. T-shirts and even suspenders have been made with the same stripes, and sometimes students go all out and wear all three together.
Tailgating before football games is another routine activity. The IU football program had a big year last year with the death of the football coach, a comeback win on a field goal kick against archrival Purdue, and then a bowl bid for the first time in 15 years. When the team isn’t doing well, however, students hang out, drink (get ticketed, keep drinking), and talk about basketball.
Reza Houston ’09 reports, “The Biggest tradition on IU’s campus is the Little 500 Weekend, a men’s bike race that has been occurring for 58 years. The weekend also includes a women’s bike race, a regatta, tons of musical artists, and this year Barack Obama attended the opening ceremonies. Non-bikers enjoy a weeklong festival of beer, shots, and then some more beer. The weekend is considered to be the biggest intramural event in the country: 20,000+ people attend every year. The original purpose of the race was to raise money for working students, and this year, over fifty $1,000 scholarships were given out.”
Evan Bayh (1978) is the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana.
Larry Bird (attended) is a legendary NBA player.
Meg Cabot (1991) wrote The Princess Diaries.
Hoagy Carmichael (1925) was an early pop songwriter.
Mark Cuban (1981) owns the Dallas Mavericks.
Jared Fogle (2000) lost over 240 pounds eating Subway sandwiches.
Kevin Kline (1970) is an award-winning film and theater actor.
Ernie Pyle (attended) was a famous World War II correspondent.
Will Shortz (1974) is the crossword editor for the New York Times.
Tavis Smiley (1986) is an author and radio host.
IU is Division I all around and has been a member of the Big Ten since the late 19th century. Hoosiers live for sports: over 600 of them play on the 24 varsity teams, which have collected 157 Big Ten Conference championships, 25 national titles and 133 individual titles. Men’s swimming and diving at IU set the record for consecutive wins when it came out on top six years in a row. Other very strong, nationally-recognized teams include soccer, track and field, tennis, and, of course, basketball—players are treated as gods among men on campus. A recent scandal took down basketball coach Kevin Sampson and students are still reeling.
IU’s endowment of $32 million is the largest in its conference, and club and intramural teams also benefit. Rugby, golf, martial arts, and ice hockey are all popular. And students enjoy tailgating for the football team even when it isn’t performing up to par.
The movie Breaking Away (1979) was filmed in Bloomington and on the IU campus.
Rumor has it that the Herman Wells library sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building. This story persists even though it has been debunked by the college itself.
The Kinsey Institute contains the largest collection of pornography in the world (not the Vatican, as many people believe).
The Works Progress Administration organized the construction of many of the campus buildings out of locally-quarried limestone during the Great Depression.
There are 11 major dorms on campus, divided into three main neighborhoods: Northwest, Central, and Southeast.
Northwest includes the dorms Briscoe, McNutt, Foster, and Collins. The first three of these dorms are considered the party dorms, typically housing people who will spend a lot of time at Greek Row, Business majors who will take classes at the nearby Kelly School, and athletes (the football stadium is also close). In general, the Northwest neighborhoods are assumed to be large, nice rooms with common restrooms and wireless lounges. There are computer labs and classrooms in the center buildings of each dorm. The Collins Living-Learning Community, an artsy, more liberal dorm, is located away from the others, and students must apply to live there. Considered the fanciest and oldest-looking, it has the nickname “Hogwarts.”
Central, so named because of its proximity to the heart of campus and academic buildings, is composed of Wright, Teter, Eigenmann, and Ashton. These dorms appear large from the outside but are usually known for the slightly smaller room size as well as for being more peaceful. Each features single, double, and triple rooms, all of which come with a trashcan, closet, bookshelf, desk(s), bed(s) with mattress, curtains, and a floor rug. Floors may be co-ed or single sex, depending on the area. The Honors floors have a reputation for being sought-after and friendlier than the others.
The Southeast/Southern neighborhood is home to Forest, Read, and Wilkie and a reputation for housing offbeat and performing arts student who take advantage of the proximity to the Jacobs School of Music. Read is known for its comfortable accommodations. Many of the dorms feature suites with private bathrooms. The apartment-style rooms and singles in Wilkie are reserved for upperclassmen. Students in this area enjoy walking to the College Mall area and the restaurants and shops on 3rd Street.