A Blast from the Past

Comparing Campus Then and Now


archive photo

The statue of William Henry Harrison was briefly without a head after an act of vandalism in the 1980s.

Kirsten Jansen, Photo Editor

As they walk the VU campus in 2020 it is hard for current students to imagine a campus without the buildings we have now, and of course the constant construction. However, those who attended VU before us had a very different campus than what we are on today.

Going into my last semester VU, I wanted to look back at how campus used to be and what drastic changes have happened over the years. Taking a look through the archive of newspapers in the journalism lab gave me the inspiration and I knew where to look and what to photograph.  I specifically looked in the ones from the 1980s and 1990’s.

The first big change I came to find was that our campus used to have a Beckes Food Court, which had restaurants and catering that came in. It was located in the Beckes Student Union which is now mainly viewed as our bookstore location. Throughout the 1980’s papers there were ads for the food court and what events were going on there and what food would be there. Now we only have Tecumseh Dining Hall and the Jefferson Union concession stand, if you want something else you have to go off campus or order to your dorm. As nice as it would be to have the food court still on campus, times are a lot simpler and we can order or pick up foods in a matter of minutes.

Along with Beckes Food Court the park on campus was Beckes Park located in front of the Humanities Building. I was able to recreate the picture almost exactly without the shrubbery that was once there.

 While we are on the topic of the park there is a statue of William Henry Harrison there only difference from the 1980’s is he has a head. Yes you read that, right back in 1981 someone vandalized the statue and removed his head leaving the statue incomplete. Since then it has been fixed and stands tall and complete.

The next big change is that we no longer have tennis courts on campus, although the courts have changed spots over the years they were always on campus. Now they are gone and in their place is a recreational field.

Since I mentioned some large changes to campus I also want to talk about the not so large ones that are also interesting to know. Like our gymnasium has obviously been upgraded and changed over the years and has become a beautiful complex to watch sporting events at. In the picture from an old newspaper Shawn Marion is shown which is interesting since we wrote a story about him returning and being honored last semester.

Not only has our campus changed but the world we live in has, causing many events to no longer be around. Like our annual tube racing that normally occurs during family and parent weekends. Sadly for the past two years it has been cancelled, last year due to low water levels in the river and this year due to COVID-19. So instead of photographing the event I photographed the empty Wabash River from Kimmel Park where the races normally took place.

So next time you are out and about in Vincennes look around, it is a city that is rich in history. Not only the city but our campus as well, as I finish my last semester here I want to make sure that the campus I once knew is documented so that as it changes more, future students can look back and see what once was VU in the previous years. Enjoy the beautiful campus and all the history and enjoyment  it has to offer.