How did Quad Day start?
According to a 2015 article from the Student Life and Culture Archives, the Dean of Student Programs Dan Perrino — also a professor of music — organized the first Quad Day in the fall of 1971 as a way to unify the campus community as protests and unrest spread on campuses across the country. “The war kept getting worse. Tensions escalated…So the lack of people getting together as a community to have a sense of community was a problem. I mean it was just a bunch of people who were angry either at the situation or at each other,” Class of 1972 alumnus Willard Broom said in an oral history from 2010, “But this is a learning community and we should all be learning together.”
The first Quad Day featured a volleyball game, hot dog stand and a student and faculty talent show. “Many of the larger student groups on campus set up booths and members of the Board of Trustees were on hand to meet new students,” Student Life and Culture Archives noted, adding that more than 7,000 people attended that year’s Quad Day.
What is Quad Day like today?
Now held the day before classes officially begin, Quad Day is an all-day opportunity for thousands of new students to learn more about Registered Student Organizations or RSOs, often for the first time. There are more than 1,400 registered student organizations at Illinois.
Who attends Quad Day?
Hundreds of student organizations, as well as fraternities and sororities, set up tables on the Quad to pass out information about their group and encourage students to join.
In recent years the Marching Illini and Illinois cheerleaders have performed in front of Foellinger Auditorium while other performances and demonstrations — dance troupes and a capella choirs to name a few — are held on Anniversary Plaza and other areas near the Illini Union.
According to Student Life and Culture Archives, the earliest student organizations were the Adelphic and Philomathean (pictured above) literary societies, formed only five days after the U. of I. opened. Once women students arrived in 1870, they formed their own literary society, the Alethenai. Kappa Alpha Theta and Pi Beta Phi (pictured below) were installed in the same year, so both considered the first sorority. Delta Tau Delta is considered to be the first fraternity at the U. of I.
For more information about Quad Day and other #ILLINOISwelcome week activities, check out the Union’s schedule of events for Welcome Week.