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Throwback Thursday

A Periodic Tale of Departmental Lore (Part 7)

Written by David Lapakko 

Times when there was a little more trust

Both young and old can make fun of many things out of the past–for example, the fact that I had to learn how to do math in high school with something called a slide rule, because personal electronic calculators were still not quite a standard part of our lives.  But at the same time, despite the lack of sophisticated technology, there was a sense of trust–bordering on naivete, I suppose–that I still sometimes miss.


Take a publication called The Auggie.  Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, The Auggie came out every fall.  It was a printed campus directory for faculty, staff, and students.  For students and professors, it included each person’s campus address, home address, and phone number–and it also included a personal photo, since most of us opted to include one (taken by a campus photographer).  In its own way, The Auggie was kind of charming–you could see what a professor looked like, find out who was from Iowa, or be able to call someone on a moment’s notice, because you had their number.  But–and you probably know where this is going–to make such a wealth of personal information available to anyone put the school as well as its students in a vulnerable position.  Sleazy people could and possibly did take advantage of it.  So, the right to be known was replaced by the right to privacy, and The Auggie bit the dust.


In a similar vein, you may remember that before COVID hit, many different types of vendors normally occupied tables during the lunch hour in the Christiansen Center lobby.  This could include a woman hawking jewelry, an organization selling roses for Valentine’s Day, or a military recruiter.  But it was pretty much a “find a table and set up shop” kind of operation–why would you need to regulate something like that?  Well, one time in the early 2000s, a woman saying she was a nurse was offering low-cost flu shots.  I remember Chris Kimball, our dean at the time, talking up this marvelously cheap and convenient way to get the vaccine; he was among those who took the woman up on it.  But then, the bad news: she was a nurse, but the “flu shots” she was offering were largely saline solution; in other words, it was a scam.  Now you know why ever since, any such vendor in Christiansen needs to post a permit to conduct their business.


Finally, don’t get me started on locked doors.  Suffice it to say that campus buildings and rooms were much more accessible, both day and night.  The word “fob” had hardly been invented yet, and it was mostly used in the context of keyless entry systems for cars.  The ramping up of campus security was no doubt necessary and inevitable, but I miss the days when it was assumed that most everyone could be trusted.  It was a simpler time, when Auggies went to the Chin Wag grill (now the Admissions Office), grabbed a burger and fries, studied the photos of all their classmates, and felt a little more free and invincible.