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I’m Not Graduating Until I Join the Illini Inn Mug Club

It’s been a nearly a year since the Champaign’s finest dive bar was torn down, and with it, the chance for thousands of Illini seniors to join the exclusive Illini Mug Club. How can this school expect me to graduate having never joined a club more elite than the Stonemasons, having never experienced a more cherished Illini tradition than not going to football games only to maybe puke in those weird double-toileted bathrooms?

I ask you: how is this fair? How is this fair that the class of 2018 is arguably the only class of UIUC students who will have never get join the Mug Club before we graduate? Yes, I probably should have joined the Mug Club as soon as I turned 21, but I wanted to wait until my senior year to join so it could truly be special. I wanted to kill my last two remaining brain cells with a frosty mug of beer during the last couple months of my college career.

The Mug Club was simple enough for even communications majors to figure out: you chugged a beer, rang a bell, signed your name in a booklet comprised of all the Mug Clubbers who came before you, and drank more beer afterward. It was a wholesome activity that generations of Illini had the privilege of experiencing… except for ours.

You might wonder why a seemingly silly tradition is so near and dear to my heart. Well, my answer to that consists of a string of letters and numbers: Willys1989. Yes, that’s my family’s Wi-Fi password. Willy’s was the original name of the Illini Inn, and my parents met inside its smelly premises in 1989.

It’s your typical late 80’s romance story: my mom saw my dad playing pinball in an R.E.M. shirt, playfully punched him in the arm, and they joined the Mug Club together. And nine months later, I was born. So I ask you: if I can’t join the Mug Club before I graduate, how the hell am I supposed to find the love of my life? I bet my future spouse’s name is signed in that Mug Club booklet somewhere, and I can’t help but dwell on that missed connection.

Now I have to look for my soulmate at Legends, where everything is too clean and expensive. $6 to join the Illini Inn Mug Club was nothing in comparison to the approximately $150 I’d have to spend to successfully Ride the Rail at Legends. Not to mention that the Mug Club only requires me to drink one beer, while I have to drink 48 beers at Legends, all to get a stupid T-shirt. D.A.R.E. taught me to resist peer pressure, and Legends is the bar equivalent of some jock at a house party yelling at me to “chug!” At least the Illini Inn wasn’t the poster child for binge drinking.

So please U of I, hear my plea: don’t make me graduate until I join the Mug Club at the new Illini Inn. And yes I know I can just visit campus next year when construction is complete, but who’s to say we all won’t be dead by then?

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