On a sweltering summer night in the heart of the majestic Indiana University campus, the cacophony of cicadas was the only
sound cutting through the still night air until, ever so gradually, the sounds of muffled conversations and laughter began
to waft through the historic Old Crescent.
Small groups of matriculating freshmen carrying translucent red glow sticks began to appear through the darkness as they
wound their way past Beck Chapel and the Indiana Memorial Union and descended upon the iconic sculpture of campus legend Herman
The life-sized representation of Wells sitting on a bench presented a welcoming image, his hand extended in a gesture of
friendship and collegiality. Students participating in summer orientation sat in a semicircle around the sculpture of the
fabled Indiana University president and chancellor while business professor David Rubinstein entertained them with an energetically
told fable leading up to the moral that the little things ultimately add up to be the most important things in life.
Incoming students are presented with a lot of information and given several tasks to complete during their two-day orientation
program at IU. Much of it is very practical, ranging from getting their student identification cards and taking placement
tests to learning where computer clusters are located and what support services are available to them.
The "Campus Legends Tour" is new this year and already appears to be a wildly successful addition to the orientation
program. Melanie Payne, director of new student orientation, said the nighttime tour was designed to go a step beyond the
general tour students get from the admissions office during campus visitation and into the culture of the campus and community.
Rubinstein has been named a "favorite professor" various times during his tenure at IU and his recent presentation
did a lot to demonstrate to the incoming freshmen that the stereotype of the stuffy professor is just that — a stereotype.
He exhorted the students to have the time of their lives getting their education at IU and told them that he'll be with
them in spirit all the way — even at their commencement. "You won't see me, but I'll be cheering at your
graduation," he said affectionately.
Each speaker to greet the students at the Wells sculpture over the past few weeks has taken his or her own personal approach.
"Coach (Bill) Lynch gave more of a fire-them-up presentation," Payne said. "(City Council member) Steve Volan
did a great job talking about the ultimate campus legend, Herman B Wells."
One of the more interesting components to the nighttime tour looks to have already established itself as a tradition. When
the students leave the Wells sculpture and gather into small groups with their orientation leader, they eventually arrive
at the IU Art Museum, where the 70-foot Light Totem uses brilliant, colored LEDs to dazzle the night sky.
Students are directed to lie down on the concrete walkway next to the art museum, prop their legs up against the wall, and
soak up the spectacular light show. Several students expressed their awe as waves of rich color washed over them and the angular
"That was really cool," said Ashley Jenkins of Indianapolis. "It was fun, but it had kind of a calming effect,
just watching the lights change."
"Unique is the best word I can come up with," agreed Brittany Hecht of Crown Point. "I will definitely come
back and do that again."
From the Light Totem, students passed by Showalter Fountain on the way back to Wright Quad, where they spent the night. And,
yes, there was some good-natured splashing involved.
"This Campus Legends Tour has been such a neat thing to see happen," said Mike Scott, a senior from Indianapolis
and one of the student coordinators of the orientation program. "To watch this whole thing develop from a seed of an
idea to what it's become in the very first year is pretty awesome. There's no doubt in my mind that this is going
to be one of the highlights of student orientation for years to come.
"And to get the support we've gotten — to have our administrators and faculty and people like City Councilman
Volan come out here at 11 o'clock at night — that's really inspiring. When we talk about the spirit of IU, here
it is on full display."