Alma is the beloved symbol for everything this university represents, and, in recent years, the lack of a real mascot has caused the student body to embrace her even more than before. She is a reminder that we can always call UIUC home, even if we’ve all made the majority of our worst memories during our time here. But is the statue we see on the pedestal now the same one sculpted by Lorado Taft in 1929?
Most students on campus today may not be aware of the 2012 renovation, in which the statue was removed to repair “surface corrosion, cracks, and water penetration into the sculpture,” with plans of returning it to its rightful place on the pedestal before the 2013 commencement. Likely story.
Unsurprisingly, as with all construction at UIUC, things didn’t exactly go as planned. The operation proved more difficult than expected, and the return of Alma was delayed until April 2014. This delay sparked rumors amongst the student body, with students speculating that the statue was actually lost, damaged, or stolen, and replaced with a fake.
The university’s administration was quick to silence these theories, but, with a little digging, you’ll find some convincing evidence that these ideas may have had some validity. It’s very possible the damage sustained by the statue was too much to repair, and that our beloved Alma has been replaced by a counterfeit.
The trail starts in the email archives. In a leaked, unsent MASSMAIL draft from 2012 Chancellor Phyllis Wise, an apology was administered explaining that the team tried the best they could, but that Alma couldn’t be saved, and would instead be replaced by a bronze replica. Did this draft remain unsent because Alma’s operation was successful? Or was it because Alma was lost sometime in the 2013 renovation process and the university knew the student body couldn’t take the hit to morale?
Think about it this way: we already know the university is brainwashing us at every turn to believe in the value of higher education, and is subliminally influencing us into building school spirit for our crappy sports teams. Losing Alma would be a huge loss of leverage over the student body, perhaps even enough to cause the campus community to fall into anarchy!
You might remember what was supposed to be a joyful celebration upon Alma’s return quickly turned ugly, when a few students apparently noticed some defects in the statue, rumored to be specifically involving the pinkie finger on her left hand. The ensuing riot was covered up, and the students have never been heard from again.
Then there’s the nail in the coffin: Lorado Taft’s own great-great-grandson, Langston Taft, also a struggling bronze sculptor, announced in a Facebook status update (that has since been removed) that he had been “working on an interesting new project for the university” in December 2013. No further information was every uncovered regarding this mystery project.
With this much evidence supporting an elaborate cover-up, refusing to consider the Imposter Alma Theory is doing this university a massive disservice. They think they can make us believe that in-state tuition is usually this high AND that Alma is the original? We’re only dumb enough to fall for one of those! Speak up and let the administration know that we want answers, and that we’re not taking any pictures with some PHONY!