Niagara then and now: Alumni weekend brings shocking recollections

Christine Burke

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – During Columbus Day weekend Niagara University hosted its annual Alumni Weekend, attracting past NU students from as recent as 2017 to as far back as 1947. While working this nostalgic event, which included catered dinners in the Dining Commons and at the Niagara Falls Convention Center, a picture on the front steps of Alumni Hall and a special lunch for the class of 1967, I was told some interesting stories about the history of our university.

While current students may complain about demanding schedules or strict rules, we have it easy compared to what students had to deal with 50 years ago. Walking around campus today, you can see people wearing anything from pajamas and sweats to a full-on suit and tie. But half a century ago, students were required to wear a jacket and tie in order to eat dinner in the dining hall. Lunch was more casual, requiring only a collared shirt, but jeans at any time were not permitted. Further, male students were required to check in with their community advisor between 7 and 7:15 a.m. every morning, while female students weren’t allowed to live on campus, instead having to find other accomodations in the surrounding areas.

One could say that we certainly get up to our share of hijinks during our four years here, but I was told a story by a source that elected to remain anonymous (for reasons well understood) that puts us all to shame. A member of the class of 1967, he was in school when the Seton and O’Shea towers were being built. Before any of the furniture had been moved into O’Shea Hall, his friends gave him an outrageous dare – that he took. That night, he got into his Mustang, went up the back ramp into the building, and drove his car through the entire first floor of O’Shea Hall. He never mentioned if he was ever caught, but either way, it makes for a spectacular story.

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One 1967-er, Annmarie Barbato Rogers, was happy to comment on how the campus has changed since her time here. “[NU’s] campus was always nice, but it’s just absolutely beautiful now,” said Rogers. She mentioned the proliferation of buildings, including our most recent additions of Golisano and Bisgrove Hall/Academic Complex. She told me that students didn’t abbreviate the name of the Gallagher Center to ‘Gally’ like we do now, and that the current version of the student hangout looks much more comfortable than the rows of tables and chairs she’d had in her day.

She said that her class had been a very close group, adding that “the proof is in the pudding that we all came back.”

From what I saw, the alumni were extremely excited to come back to their alma mater and reminisce. It really makes you wonder what we’ll be looking forward to coming back to in the next 50 years.

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